Negotiate 1-2-3


Getting in Sync

Learning Objectives Est. time: 10 min.

  • Understanding the importance of nonverbal channels of communication
  • Seeing how negotiators’ nonverbal behavior can mesh or clash
  • Recognizing mutual influence, both positive and negative


Sometimes, when talking with a stranger, you may feel an almost instantaneous rapport. It can happen in social encounters and in business meetings. There’s simply a sense of being comfortable with that person and knowing that they are comfortable with you. In the vernacular, it’s being on the same wavelength.

There are other times, unfortunately, when the opposite is true. At some level you sense the other person’s unease and that makes you uncomfortable, as well. That’s being out of sync. How well negotiators connect with one another often impacts their ultimate success. Are they empathetic or detached? Are they trusting or wary?

This module describes intriguing new research on the physical aspects of being in and out of sync with another person. More specifically it focuses on how one person’s physical state and behavior can either mirror or conflict with the person with whom they are interacting. Awareness of this dynamic can enhance your emotional intelligence, and thus enhance your negotiation effectiveness.

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Negotiation is more than an exchange of offers and counteroffers or an exercise in problem-solving. It is not just a contest of wills in which power is exerted and resisted. It is those things, of course, but on a more personal basis, negotiation is a process of mutual influence.

This interaction may be positive or negative. It may serve as a platform for finding mutually advantageous solutions. Or it may turn a negotiation into a battle in which each party’s prime objective is besting the other.

Whether the parties develop a smooth relationship or a hostile one is not fully in any one person’s control. Others with whom they deal will have their own styles and agendas. Nevertheless, effective negotiators are sensitive to whether they are in sync with their counterparts. How people talk (how loudly they speak and whether they balance talking with listening) can be as important as what they actually say.

In this complex dance, you should strive to lead, that is, to encourage constructive behavior. But you also should be prepared to follow, if your counterpart is more attuned to a different pace or rhythm.

Additional Resources

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