A win-win outcome is usually the ultimate goal of effective negotiation. Sounds pretty complicated, am I right? Tech leads among you would certainly agree!

As a tech lead, you’ll constantly find yourself in conversations that require solid negotiation skills. It may be requirements negotiation with a client, convincing highly sought-after talents to join your team, or even asking for a raise.

How to handle such conversations, be efficient, maintain the relationship, but also not get the shorter end of the stick?

Four Negotiation Techniques That Will Make You a Better Technical Lead

Effective negotiation requires you to perfect both hard technical and soft people skills. The pitfall of most technical-oriented roles is they rely too heavily on logic and reasoning. But the hard skills will only get us so far.
With the help of these essential techniques, navigating difficult conversations will become a walk in the park. You will get better results, and be more efficient, every time.

  1. Mirroring
  2. Labeling
  3. Paying attention to the tone of voice and body language
  4. Asking the right questions

TL;DR don’t have time to dig in? Check our brief presentation!

1. Mirroring

Mirroring is a rapport-building technique with broad applicability. For tech leads, it might work perfectly when conducting interviews or meeting with clients.
You should pick a few (no more than five) key words just spoken by the other party and repeat them in an inquisitive, upper inflection tone. Take care; too much mirroring can come off as mimicry, which will be poorly received as insincere or condescending.
Mirroring is helpful because it asks for confirmation and encourages people to keep talking. That can give you space to think, encourage the person you speak with to reveal further information and help you get inside their thought process.

Once you know the thought process and their position, you can add ‘labeling.’

2. Labeling

Labeling is voicing out your interlocutor’s emotions in a manner that gets them to think about their feelings. Effectively neutralizing negative emotions in a negotiation or reinforcing positive ones without actually slowing the negotiation process down.

You should Identify the emotion, then frame the feeling you observe using the preemptive phases, usually in the form of “It seems like you… “or “You look like…”. The benefit of labeling is that it diffuses tense or negative emotions and gets the other party to address them. When you label a positive one, you reinforce it. When you Label a negative one, that negative is diminished.

Labeling works really well in the workplace, whereby showing that you appreciate the efforts they’re making may motivate them to go that extra mile.

3. Paying Attention to Non-Verbal Communication

Content is important, but non-verbal communication is key to effective negotiation by giving context to our words.

You should pay attention to the other party’s non-verbal cues like body language and tone of voice. There’s no hard-and-fast rule, but it helps to pay attention to eye contact and facial expressions. This will help you appropriately interpret and label their emotions. Be cautious when there’s a significant disparity between what’s said and the speaker’s non-verbal cues because this can indicate dishonesty.

Virtual Conferencing Tips

Negotiations today are often done virtually. Here are a few tips on making a great impression by looking a lot more engaging and professional. 

  • Make sure your face doesn’t take up more than a third of your screen.
  • Mind the tone you use. Because you can barely see the body language over the video.
  • Try to maintain eye contact during video conferences by looking at the webcam.

4. Asking the Right Questions

Not all questions are conversation boosters, so make sure you steer the conversation in your desired direction

You should always put an effort to make sure you come prepared because asking the right questions will put you in control of the narrative. It’ll also make you appear professional, warm, and empathetic while giving people an opportunity to think and share their thoughts in better detail.

It’s best to know the questions to avoid.

Questions to Avoid in a Negotiation

Leading Questions

They encourage people to defend their opinions against your suggestions or to provide false or presumptuous information.

Example: “With all the perks I’ve pointed out, don’t you think this is a great workplace?”

Asking “Why”

Asking why puts people in a position where they have to defend their opinions and make the negotiation process competitive rather than collaborative.

Example: “Why can’t you accept our deadline?”

Better approach: “What is it about our deadline that’s not acceptable for you?”

Yes-and-No Questions

Yes-or-No Questions should be used cautiously in a negotiation because they can put people in a difficult position, can result in cutting off further information, or force people to pick from two restrictive options.

Example: “Will you accept my request for a pay raise?”

Better approach: “What do you think about my request for a pay raise?”

Final Thoughts on Negotiation for Technical Leads

Thank you for reading so far!

Sure, negotiation techniques allow you to take on difficult conversations. Just remember the most critical takeaway – negotiation is not about winning or losing. Negotiations are about efficiently reaching results all can agree on and getting on with their lives feeling like they’ve had a good meeting. 

At BrightMarbles, we firmly believe there’s more to succeeding as an employee and an entire organization than simply having the “hard” skills needed to get the job done. That’s why we put effort into helping our colleagues build their soft skills through various training and workshops.

Drop us a line to find out more about our training programs!