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Negotiation Strategies Straight From [Famous Mentalist] Banachek, Ep #131

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What can a mentalist teach negotiators about their craft? A mentalist can be thought of like a magician or psychic—someone who exhibits abilities that seem supernatural. Banachek describes his craft, in short, as the ability to “Take my five known senses to create the illusion of a sixth sense”. It’s a combination of experience, intuition, and known means of persuasion. In this episode of Negotiations Ninja, Banachek joins me to share how his skills can be useful in negotiation—be sure to listen.

Banachek is a magician and mentalist, who instantly became known around the world for convincing scientists that his abilities were genuine psychic powers. His goal was to prove their standards weren’t rigorous enough even though they thought they were smart enough to see through an illusion. In the end, when they were convinced, he explained it was all a sham. He’s gone on to find a lucrative career as a mentalist, astounding people with his unique skill.

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:27] Banachek’s background as a mentalist
  • [3:45] A common misconception of mentalism
  • [7:20] How he got restaurant owners to pay him
  • [8:40] How he fooled scientists into thinking he was psychic
  • [10:41] What negotiators can learn from a mentalist
  • [16:15] It is about being genuine, open, and honest
  • [17:32] Banachek has a penchant to help others
  • [23:18] How to improve your negotiation skills
  • [28:44] Connect with Banachek

See a need—fill a need

According to Banachek, magicians have to be their own salespeople. He launched his career in restaurants by approaching managers with his promo material. He promised that he would entertain patrons while they waited for their meals. Even if there was an issue in the kitchen and their meal was late—they’d be so mesmerized by his performance that they’d lose track of time.

He made sure that he never worked off of tips so he wasn’t in competition with the waitstaff. So they worked alongside him, often connecting him with the highest paying customers (the ones they needed to keep happy). Some of the high-end clientele hired him to perform at their companies, and he still works with some of them to this day.

Banachek’s #1 rule was to never make a promise that he couldn’t keep. Restaurants invited him back and customers talked about him. He promised these restaurants he would fill a need and kept that promise.

Make people feel important

Mentalists are skilled at reading body language down to every micro-expression. They’ve mastered the concepts of anchoring and isopraxism. They’ve honed their skill and practice it on a subtle level. All of these tactics are things that many sales professionals and negotiators can learn. It’s not simply persuasion or a means to an end. Banachek points out that his intent is never to deceive but he has a natural affinity towards building a connection and trust with people he meets.

An excellent negotiator must practice these concepts and learn to make people feel important. You must pay attention to the person on the other side of the table—not on the next topic of conversation. Mirroring and anchoring cause people to pay attention. You create eye contact and an emotional level of connection.

Banachek’s self-taught genius

When asked if he modeled his career after any particular success in the industry, Banachek honestly said “no”. Banachek was born in England but was abandoned by his mother in South Africa—with his baby brothers, aged 1 and 3. He raised them, alone, until the age of 15. He was always taking care of someone and learned from a young age that he had to figure things out himself.

But he pointed out that if he had to emulate anyone to learn the art of persuasion—that you should watch television evangelists. They have the uncanny ability to take their audiences on a roller coaster of emotions. They could have them laughing, soon followed by deep emotional displays and crying. They are charming and enigmatic—the perfect negotiators.

Employ outside-the-box thinking

Banachek implores you to find a way to think outside of the box—don’t be just like everyone else. When he would pitch his services for trade shows, he’d never lead with the fact that he was a magician. It would be an easy no. Instead, he’d demonstrate that he would draw a crowd to their booth and increase their awareness of the product.

He knew a fellow mentalist who would draw a crowd to the booth, and in his set he would mispronounce the business name—then look back at their poster, drawing attention to the correct name. The crowd would remember two things: the company’s name—and the fact that he didn’t know the name. Either way, it drew attention to the product and the business.

In the rest of the episode, Banachek shares a few more fascinating tricks of the trade and negotiation tips that negotiation professionals can embrace. Listen now for a deep-dive into the mind of one of the most skilled mentalists alive.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Banachek

Connect With Mark

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