How to “Say Less, Get More”

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“Say Less, Get More” is Fotini Iconomopoulos’ latest book where she teaches negotiators unconventional ways to get what they want—i.e., say less to get more. But the average person avoids negotiating.

Anything that could bruise egos, cause conflict, or make someone feel a sense of loss, can cause people distress. When this happens, Fotini sees people go into flight, fright, or freeze. It makes them tongue-tied and timid. No one wants to feel that way, so they avoid negotiation altogether.

The fear of looking stupid, losing out, or of repercussions—especially for marginalized communities—keeps people from advancing what they want to accomplish. So how do you prepare yourself and beef up your confidence? How do you say less and get more? That’s where Fotini Iconomopoulos comes in.

Reframe your feelings to change your abilities

Singing and public speaking are among the top fears, aside from death. Negotiation ranks right up there. A Harvard study conducted in 2013 asked a group of people to sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” in front of a crowd. They were split into three groups:

  • Group 1: This group was instructed to tell themselves, “I am anxious.”
  • Group 2: This group was instructed to tell themselves, “I am excited.”
  • Group 3: This group was instructed to say nothing at all.

The study measured the volume and pitch of those who sang. Those who told themselves, “I am excited,” outperformed the other two groups. They also outperformed them on a math test and a speech test. Reframing your emotions changes your cognitive abilities.

So the first strategy you can use to overcome jitters is to tell yourself that your butterflies are feelings of excitement. Instead of saying, “I’m worried they’re going to take away the offer,” say “What if they give me an amazing offer?”

A smile goes a long way

When you physically smile, it’s hard to be in a bad mood, right? Dr. Amy Cuddy gave a TED talk about how your body language shapes who you are. When people adopt a power pose—even if it looks stupid—it allows the brain to catch up to what the body is telling others. You can change your brain and perform better simply by changing your mentality. Why does it matter?

A study on negotiation found that negotiators who looked anxious realized suboptimal deals—12% less financially attractive. If someone tells you to do something simple like smiling, what’s the risk? If looking silly will put more money in your pocket, who does it hurt? Athletes have pre-game rituals—you can have one too.

Say Less, Get More

Silence is another tactic you can use to achieve better outcomes in negotiation. But silence is nerve-wracking. How do you get over it? Why does it matter?

Fotini says to practice when the stakes are low. If you’re talking to a spouse or family member, count to three before you respond. They might think, “I wonder what they’re thinking right now,” or “Wow, he’s really listening.” When you jump to respond, it doesn’t build much trust in others. Finishing someone’s sentence doesn’t create synergy—it causes annoyance.

Another low-stakes scenario is to call your cell phone or cable provider. If you’re silent for a few seconds, they’ll question if you’re still there. You can just say, “Yes, I’m just thinking about what you said.” It will make them nervous. They can’t pull your plan—but they may make you a better offer.

In episode #287 of Negotiations Ninja, Fotini shares some sage advice on how to negotiate a better salary when you’ve received a job offer. Don’t miss it!