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First 7 seconds of any negotiation really count 26 March, 2007

Posted by varoom in Selling.

Conventional wisdom states that in interpersonal relationships the first seven seconds after you meet someone are the most important. It seems that on meeting someone for the first time you make your mind up about that person in seven seconds. You then go on to spend the rest of the time of that first meeting trying to prove your first instincts right. We all feel that our initial feelings are to be trusted and that we are good judges of character.

If this is really true it means that commercial negotiations can be seriously impacted if the party you are negotiating with, for the first time, makes up their mind to your disadvantage. What can we we can do to survive the first seven seconds?

People form their initial perceptions about you from your verbal and non-verbal behaviours. What you say and how you say it are key points in the initial introductions in the meeting. Make sure you introduce yourself clearly, maintain good eye contact and listen to their name and title. Make sure you can recall names clearly, write them down or position their business card in front of you to align with their positions around the table. This signals that you want to know and remember who they are and that you consider them important in the discussion.

Another factor is your responsiveness and body language. Make sure you are responsive to their enquiries, be aware it’s easy to convey an early feeling that you are not interested in what they have to say. You can create early problems by positioning yourself to face one of the opposite party and you have to make a visual effort to turn and face another at the table when they speak. Position yourself so it’s clear that you regard them all as equals. Responsiveness also means that you are open to their questions and give your answers easily and freely. Be careful about assertive characteristics where you are trying to influence the thoughts and actions of the other parties too early in the relationship.

In the global business arena we are increasingly meeting, and negotiating, with other cultures and the seven second factor becomes even more important as there are many ways to have a bad start with new cultures. You can easily offend some cultures in the initial business card exchange by not paying due respect to their job title, or throwing the card on the table, putting it in your back pocket and sitting on the card! Other cultures will be offended if you become too familiar and use first names or miss out titles like Doctor or Professor. In order not to be trapped by the first seven seconds make sure you do some up front research on culture. I recommend you visit the guidelines for business etiquette section on www.executiveplanet.com for advice on various aspects of global business.

Negotiations are always between people and the relationship between those people can either help or hinder the negotiations. To be effective in business you need to build good, long term, working relationships and trust. Only when you have established a good, stable, working relationship that you can change your negotiation style to become more assertive, less responsive or more familiar with your opposite number in the negotiations.

Grev Commins



1. OrgaledeeMe - 11 December, 2009

I highly enjoyed reading this blogpost, keep on writing such exciting stuff!

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