10 Debate Tactics For Effective Negotiation –

Presidential debates are exciting to watch, comment on, and share no matter where you’re from: Utah, Tennessee, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Ohio, North Dakota. And although it’s not likely you’ll ever participate in a presidential debate yourself, there’s a lot that we can all learn from them, especially when it comes to negotiation. Debates are a lot like arguments, offering a forum for discussion, disagreement, and opinions, and many of the tactics that are effective in debate are useful in negotiation as well. Confidence, tone, agreement, and solid facts are just some of the things that can get opponents ahead in both debate and negotiation. Read on as we share some of the best debate tactics you can use at the negotiation table.

  1. Be friendly and respectful:

    Resorting to yelling, name calling, and interruptions makes debaters look bad, and it’s terrible at the negotiation table as well. While it’s perfectly fine to defend yourself, be careful to stay positive and respectful. Unlike a debate, a negotiation is a situation in which both sides hope to find a win-win, and that’s best achieved by remaining cordial and nice to one another.

  2. Come out strong:

    Mitt Romney dominated the first debate, and although it appears Barack Obama won the second, he would have been better served to come out swinging. There are three debates, but the first one mattered the most, setting the tone for the rest of the election season and putting the Obama-Biden camp on the defensive. In negotiation, it’s important to come out strong from the very beginning, dominating early instead of making up ground later. Those impressed by Romney in the first debate may not have been swayed to reconsider their vote in the second one.

  3. Use strategic agreement:

    Using strategic agreement in debate is a great way to appear more reasonable and logical, and it works in negotiations as well. Using this tactic, one side agrees with select points made by the other, finding common ground. Politicians succeed in using this tactic, showing voters that they’re willing to work with others when it makes sense, and it’s an essential tool for effective negotiation. If you agree with the points that are being made, don’t hesitate to share your agreement. You’ll be seen as more reasonable and easy to work with.

  4. Have solid evidence:

    Strong debaters heavily rely on the use of facts, and there’s a good reason why: it’s hard to argue with facts. Barack Obama won points in the latest debate by offering solid evidence on jobs growth to back up his assertion that the economy is on a positive swing. With well-researched data like statistics, surveys, and expert quotes, your negotiation can go beyond just your own word. If you’re negotiating for a raise, find and share the facts on how you’ve improved the company’s bottom line. Signing on a new client? Use facts to show how you have made a difference for your existing clients. It’s all about evidence to back up your position.

  5. Ask for solid evidence, too:

    Facts aren’t just for you to share. Make sure your debate partner or negotiator is on the ball with them, too. Anyone can throw out wild claims that sound right, but hard evidence is worth so much more, both in debating and in negotiation. Force your opponent to defend their position by placing the burden of proof on them. If they cannot provide facts to back up their points or claims, but you can, you’re in a position of power and more likely to influence the negotiation.

  6. Don’t let them see you sweat:

    By many accounts, Mitt Romney won the first presidential debate, thanks to his confidence and ease at the podium. Barack Obama, on the other hand, seemed stressed and shaky, showing voters that perhaps, Romney had gotten to him. Staying cool is important in negotiations as well, keeping an air of confidence and security that can help you get your point across effectively. If your opponent knows they’ve flustered you, they’re more likely to push you over to make a play for their point.

  7. Be prepared and anticipate arguments:

    Planning ahead is one of the best ways to stay confident during a debate or negotiation. If you know the material and your opponent well, you’re in a much better position to offer a strong argument. Do proper research for your negotiation. Know the strong points that your opponent is likely to bring up, and be ready with the facts you need to argue against them.

  8. Be aware of body language and tone:

    How you speak is often more important that what you’re saying. Showing your shakiness, using an aggressive tone, or failing to look your opponent in the eye can be fatal to a debate or negotiation. Be careful not to give away your thoughts or emotions, or appear nervous through your body language. Practice so that you can ensure your body language and tone demonstrate your confidence.

  9. Be specific enough:

    Mitt Romney has been widely criticized for being vague in explaining how to pay for tax cuts, and it’s hurt him during the debates. Being specific makes for a strong argument, whether you’re debating or negotiating. Specifics and facts instill confidence; vagueness is the language of failure. When negotiating, be careful to spell out exactly what you’re looking for. Even if you win while being vague, it can all fall apart later in the execution.

  10. Know your audience:

    In the presidential debate, Romney and Obama know who they’re really trying to impress: undecided voters, women, and supporters in need of motivation to get to the polls. They’ve carefully constructed their arguments to ensure that they’re doing their best to reach and resonate with these viewers. In negotiation, it’s important to keep your audience in mind as well. Know your opponent, and know who they answer to. Is there something you know they’d like to hear, or guidelines that you know they have to stick to? Do your research, and be familiar with who you’re negotiating with.