You have probably noticed in your interactions with others some people operate at a much slower pace than you do. Their movements and conversation are more deliberate. The effect it has on you can be either off putting in that you wish they would just speed it up or you adjust your own tempo to match theirs. On the other hand, some people speed along and you feel out of breath trying to keep up with them. In the spirit of building relationships with others it is important to adjust your speed to match that of your conversation partner.
This is known as mirroring or the chameleon effect in that you begin to imitate the mannerisms of those around you and many times you do not even realize you are doing it. It is part of your tendency as a social being to adapt your behavior to fit in with others. This works well in building relationships, which is a critical part of collaborative negotiations.
At the beginning of a negotiation and at different points along the way you are establishing rapport and getting to know the other negotiator. It is important to anticipate the points the other person might agree to, the levels of risk and reward, and what might be a deal breaker. This evolves as you get to know more about the other person.
However, at some points during the course of the negotiation it is not to your advantage to increase your speed to match your negotiating partner's speed. In some instances, negotiators use speed to their advantage, which could be to your disadvantage.
This is especially the case when you are thrown off your plan that you created in your preparation. The pace can be so quick you end up agreeing to points you never would have agreed to and you do not even have the time to refer back to your notes. Moving at a steadier pace allows you to regain composure, stick to your plan and at least refer back to it to make the necessary adjustments.
The good news is there are ways that will allow you to maintain rapport with the other party in your negotiation and at the same time maintain a comfortable pace so you can follow your plan. Here are three tips on how to do that.
1. Notice the Speed
Too often you might get caught up in a faster pace without even realizing it. Before you know it you are out of breath trying to keep up. Take a step back and take a deep breath. Begin to manage the pace by slowing down your own responses.
2. Name the Pace
Once you notice it, you now have a chance to name it. You can actually say "Let's slow down a minute and take a few steps back." This puts you in the driver seat of the pace, for the time being anyway. You have a chance to rewind the last few interactions and redo them to honor you being responsive in ways that are mutually beneficial.
3. Ask for Details
You can also adjust the pace to your liking by asking for clarifications and examples. Expressions such as, "Can you give me an example of that so I get a clearer picture of what you mean" can work well in asking for descriptions. This adjusts the other person's pace, gives you a chance to regain your composure and provides you with more information.