Acknowledgement enables us to build rapport with even the most resistant negotiation counterparts. And in the end, they get to determine whether we have succeeded in understanding them or not!
TranscriptDo I Understand You? Acknowledgement Demonstrated…
Acknowledging your counterpart’s needs and concerns—in any challenging conversation or negotiation—has many benefits. Plus it costs you nothing: That’s why it’s called the “cheapest concession you can make.”
Today I want to show you what high quality acknowledgement looks and sounds like.
Let’s imagine I’m speaking with one of my direct reports, Maria. I’ve just listened to her fully, and here’s my response:
Look, Maria, I really appreciate you coming in to speak with me about this. As far as I’m concerned it demonstrates your commitment to this organization.
I actually see things a bit differently than you, but I want to make sure I understand where you are coming from, ok?
Acknowledgment does not equal agreement: Many people hesitate to acknowledge because they fear it implies that they agree with their counterpart. One way to address this is to respectfully flag at the start that you see things differently, but that you nevertheless want to understand their perspective.
So you’ve stepped up, a bit reluctantly, to lead this new division and it sounds like you feel we haven’t given you what you need to make it work, including adequate budget and staffing. You even feel your team’s work space is sub par.
You also said you get the sense that I don’t make your work a priority, and as two examples you mentioned that it takes me a while to respond to your emails, and also that I didn’t give you any feedback on the site design before the deadline. This forces you to operate “in a vacuum” as you called it. And it’s frustrating for you.
Finally, you said you wondered why you weren’t asked to present an update at the executive team meeting like some of the other division heads.
Include essential details: Effective acknowledgement includes the most significant parts of their experience, their thoughts and feelings, and even key expressions and phrases that they use.
I get the sense that you’ve been reading all this as a sign that we don’t believe in you somehow. You also implied, and I may be wrong here but I just want to mention it, that I might still have some hard feelings from what happened last year and your role in Ron’s departure. I definitely want to address that a bit.
Listen for latent meaning: Skillful acknowledgement highlights things that aren’t said explicitly but that you sense might be important to your counterpart. Use a light touch because you may be wrong. But when you get it right, it deepens their experience of “being understood.”
So that’s it I think. Is that correct? Did I miss anything or misunderstand anything?
Your success is up to them: Finally, end your acknowledgement by checking in with your counterpart and asking for feedback. You don’t have to get it right on the first pass; they’ll correct what you may have missed. But getting confirmation from them that they feel like you understand is crucial.