One of the most effective techniques to turn someone from an adversary to a teammate is by getting them to engage in the problem-solving process. Though it’s much easier said than done.
Perhaps they’re not an adversary, but someone who’s neutral, or holds the final decision and you want them to be on your ‘side.’
As Chris Voss puts it in his book on negotiation, “Never Split the Difference,” the most effective negotiation technique is to engage with a “How question.”
A “how question” shares the problem-solving responsibility with the opposing individual.
Chris Voss recalls when a hostages’ wife, while on the phone, in front of the FBI asked the hostage taker, “How do I know my husband is still alive?” This stumped all the FBI agents. As they would routinely ask questions that would require the hostage taker to get an answer from the victim; such as “what is his mother’s maiden name?”
But when asked “How do I know my husband is still alive?” to the amazement of the FBI, the hostage taker put her husband on the phone to confirm that he was still alive.
The first step of a negotiation is to get engagement. By engaging the hostage taker in solving the problem, they had little choice but to work with the FBI. Ask “how questions” leads to a collaborative negotiation.
While we don’t have as drastic of situations in our day to day work, we can utilize these questions to engage in active team building dialogue.
How would you use this technique to get closer to your goal?