4 Tips to Communicating with Confidence cover image

4 Tips to Communicating with Confidence



Welcome to the final part of the 3-part series on how to negotiate with confidence.

In the first article we explored how being prepared before you negotiate, can increase your confidence. In part 2, we looked at how you can confidently negotiate if you understand the other party, including their communication, personality and negotiating style. In this part 3, we look at how you can communicate with confidence by using not only verbal but non-verbal communication to express your objectives and build rapport with the other party.

Tip 1: Gain Confidence with your Presence  

Communication consists mainly of non-verbal cues. Professor Albert Mehrabian of the University of California in Los Angeles, found that words only take up 7% of our communication, tone takes up 38%, and physiology or non-verbal communication takes up 55%.

Even when you’re not talking, your physical presence silently communicates and creates a perception. What you think is being suggested by your actions and body language. If you’re nervous, annoyed or even relaxed, this will be reflected in your body language.  But during a negotiation, you can use verbal and non-verbal cues to your advantage:  

  • Personal power: You can create and emanate personal power and a sense that you are meant to be there by enhancing your posture; standing tall and erect; looking direct and talking slower and lower while deepening your voice.

  • Interest: You can show you’re interested in someone by leaning forward as they speak, or positioning your body so that everything is pointed towards them.

  • Let’s be friends: Friends usually stand next to one another. At a meeting, stand next to the person. This suggests collaboration rather than confrontation.

  • Smile: Smiling makes you appear more attractive, and makes you feel fabulous. It will also signal to the other person that you are friendly and willing to collaborate. 

  • Changing pace: You can change your presence and the tone of the meeting by moving, or deepening your voice. You can lighten the mood by saying a joke or by becoming animated. 

  • Change of mind: You can also change someone’s presence, body language and thoughts by interacting with them. If they have their arms crossed and look defensive, hand them something like a piece of paper, a business card or a drink. They will need to release their arms to receive the item, which forces them to move their body positioning and may alter their defensive state and thought patterns. 

Tip 2:  Create confidence through Rapport

People usually like to deal with people they like and who are similar to them. There is a natural tendency to like similar people, as you feel more relaxed and at ease, as there is something unconsciously familiar about them.  Being similar is being in rapport.  Rapport can be created by:

  • modelling or copying the other person’s body language and communication style;

  • mirroring by reflecting back their posture and body language as if the person is looking into a mirror.

  • replicating what people are saying including the words, the tone and inflections in sentences (such as an upward or downward inflection at the end of a sentence) and the speed of speech and breathing rhythm. 

  • If rapport has been achieved, you will feel a level of comfort with the other person and the negotiation is likely to be easier. 

Tip 3: Create confidence through Language

Watch your own and the other person’s language styles closely. Language and the way people structure words speaks volumes about how someone is feeling. Language can reveal assumptions, beliefs, how people think and act, and can be used as an emotional tool during negotiations:  

  • Generalization: People sometimes make generalizations of the information that they receive either by making incorrect assumptions or statements based upon particular beliefs. An example of a generalization is ‘everyone loves to negotiate’ or ‘it’s impossible to get staff to do things’. Although the statement might be true in some cases, it will not be accurate in all situations. If you notice this occurring during your negotiations, request further clarification of what is being said so that you can understand the basis for the generalization. 

  • Blame: A person may, when they’re speaking, blame, or try to assert guilt or a sense of obligation by using words ‘should’ or ‘must’. It is a technique which reflects that the person blaming is not comfortable and is trying to control the situation; criticise the other person or get the other person off guard .

  • Cause and effect: If a person uses words such as ‘if’,‘then’ or ‘makes’ they might be speaking in cause and effect and trading off one element of the transaction for another or trying to offer a compromise.  

  • Distortions:  A person might distort the information that is being presented to reflect a particular argument. They might summarize the information and repeat the words that have been presented, but slightly change the meaning.
    For example, if the other party states that ‘you must take over all of the supply agreements in the business’, your response might be, ‘we’ll take over all of the supply agreements in the business that suit us’. It sounds similar. There is some agreement. You will take over all of the supply agreements, but only those at your election. 

  • Deletions: Information might also be deleted so that the information reflects a particular argument. The facts about a specific situation relating to the business might be known, but omitted for example.  If this occurs, re-clarify facts and statements if necessary. 

  • Control by presupposition: A person might also attempt to control the conversation by presupposing the situation as being true, even though the information which presupposes a particular scenario might not have previously been disclosed.  For example, asking, “Have you stopped buying from that person?” presumes that the other party has previously bought from that person.

  • Control by assumption: Alternatively, a person might jump to conclusions and make assumptions and infer a particular situation, although there might not be any information to suggest that outcome, but the assumptions will generally highlight a bias or belief. ‘I bet you…’ is an example of an assumption. 

  • Deductive reasoning: Have you ever been led into an argument and been left wondering how you agreed to something? You might have been subject to deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning is a process where you take a number of true statements to form a conclusion. The information might be chunked up to a high level of abstraction and be so general that you agree to the initial statements. Then the statement is applied to another piece of information. Given that the former information is correct, the conclusion is naturally correct – or is it? An example of deductive reasoning is:
    ‘All businesses are risky’.
    ‘Emma and Abi have a flower shop’.
    ‘A flower shop is a business’.
    ‘Therefore, Emma and Abi’s flower shop is a risk’.
    While deductive reasoning might have you agreeing to conclusions, be aware that deductive reasoning can be incorrect. In the above example, just because businesses are risky, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Emma and Abi’s flower shop is risky.

  • Presuppositions: A person might assume without any evidence the position of the other person.  For instance, you can position the status of the negotiations, by saying something like, ‘we agree that there is nothing else to be discussed’. It may be used to control the situation, but not adequately reflect the actual status.

Tip 4: Moving the transaction forward by Agreement

The negotiation process proceeds through various stages of agreement and disagreement. Generally, when people agree, the negotiation will progress forward.  But sometimes when you are at an impasse, you might need to agree to some element to move the deal forward:  

  • Be in agreement: Find elements of the conversation that you agree with and confirm what has been said by using positive words and statements, such as, ‘Yes I agree’, ‘understand’, ‘appreciate’ or ‘respect’.  

  • Eliminate walls, build bridges: Eliminate words that build walls, such as ‘but’ or ‘however’ as they negate what you’ve previously said. Instead, use connecting words that build bridges, such as the word ‘and’.     

  • No butting: When words such as ‘but’ and ‘however’ are used by the other party, note what is said following that word, as that phrase will disclose what they are really meaning. 

  • Minimize defences: Eliminate any words which suggest negotiation, as that might put the other party in a defensive position.

  • Chunk up or down: To gain agreement, the information should be ‘chunked up’ or summarized or abstracted. Information that is more general in nature is likely to be agreed with.  A person will more readily agree with a generic statement like, “I think this boardroom will be large enough for us, don’t you?” (when there are only the two of you in the room negotiating) rather than, “I like the panelling on the walls, don’t you?” The latter statement is more specific and based upon personal taste. The higher the information is ‘chunked up’, the more general it will be, and the greater the probability that agreement will be achieved.  

  • Re-articulation: After a lot of information has been provided, chunking up and summarizing it will help clarify the main points and deal with overwhelm.

  • Sidestepping: There may be challenges to your position. Your position will be strengthened if you can rely on an example where the outcome reflects what you are trying to achieve. You might refer to a similar business which sold for a different price for example. Or you could challenge the other party by providing an industry standard, or strengthen your stance by relying on a principle that you or your team always rely upon (like ‘we always do it that way’). 

  • Improvise: If the discussion becomes tense, never be afraid to request a break in the proceedings or if appropriate, lighten the negotiations with a joke or anything that can bring the relationship closer. Always be open to improvisation and provide an alternate proposal or be ready to walk away from the present negotiations. 

  • Concessions: Concessions are trade-offs, which can be used as a means of exchange, which one party gives to the other to achieve an outcome.  Concessions should only be given grudgingly, with conditions attached in order to achieve something in return. For example, you may grudgingly agree to pay an additional $10,000 for the business, but only if the seller allows you to deal exclusively with the transaction during the due diligence process or provides an extended settlement period.  
    This strategy appeals to the other party’s sense of fairness and if done correctly, usually closes down an aspect of the negotiation.  

  • Impasses and delays: Determine whether there are any timelines that the other party must meet. If the other party is pressured by time they might be amenable to concessions to the purchase price or terms of the sale so that the transaction is completed within their timeline. However, never agree to settle early if the Seller has not given you time for your due diligence, as the pressure to act, might be an excuse to hide certain elements of the business. 

  • Lowest points and limits to negotiating: Be mindful that there are limits to the negotiation and ensure you act in alignment with your original objectives or make concessions only after considering them. If you are too agreeable to the other party’s demands, they might continue to push. Remind the other party of the concessions you’ve already provided to them, and the limits of the negotiation. This will help the other party see that you are willing to make some sacrifices but will also set limits. Understand when the negotiation is not progressing; and when you need more time to consider the proposal; and when to walk away. 

Key takeaways:

Knowing how to communicate using verbal and non-verbal cues enables you to create an impression; develop rapport and a connection with the other party. Communication has the ability to manage your state and shape the negotiations.  Use communication to confidently direct the negotiation to where you would like it to go. Mastering communication will enable you to negotiate with confidence.

About the Author:

This extract has been taken from the book, ‘Entrepreneur Know How – Mindset and Winning Steps for Buying a Business,’ written by Sharon Robson (Available through Amazon). Sharon is also the principal lawyer, director and founder of the boutique law firm, Antler Legal – a corporate commercial legal practice in Sydney, Australia. She has played a key role in facilitating, advising and negotiating many business transactions on behalf of her clients. Sharon is also a speaker, marketer and business owner. She is passionate about mindset and empowering people through education.


Sharon Robson

Antler Legal