To effectively and successfully negotiate, real estate practitioners must understand how human behavior influences the deal-making process. It’s about more than just strategy – awareness of personalities, perception, body language and vocal tone helps professionals deliver lasting and better-quality solutions.
Gaining insight about your client’s needs is only half the battle. A successful negotiator is also aware of how their own unconscious behaviour affects the relationship. By tapping into this deeper level of understanding, you are much more likely to reach a beneficial and ethical outcome.
“Negotiating is less about skill and more about preparation and knowledge of how people are reacting to you and what they really want from the interaction,” says Natalka Falcomer, faculty at the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC) and founder of GroundWorks, a firm specializing in commercial real estate law. “With the right preparation, you can out-negotiate anyone – even those with more experience.”
Become a Better Negotiator
You may wonder where to access this knowledge and how to leverage it during a negotiation. After all, master negotiators aren’t born. It takes time to hone your style.
REIC offers a Negotiation and Documentation in Commercial Leasing course as part of the Certified Leasing Officer (CLO) designation program. The course is designed for real estate professionals who want to develop their understanding of leasing and documentation procedures. Through case studies and workshops, the course deep dives into the negotiation process, allowing students to overcome the most common barriers when navigating lease agreements.
Group discussions in the classroom lead to eye-opening revelations when negotiation strategies are put into practice. For instance, a student who pressures a client into submission through aggressive communication will soon realize that this strategy yields unfavorable outcomes.
“Managing the client relationship is just as important as what you write on paper,” notes Falcomer. “If you offend people during negotiations and they sign a deal they are unhappy with – you have not won. They will likely break that contract due to being upset or unable to perform on the terms you bullied them into.”
Occasionally, the bully is the client, which can be a stressful relationship to navigate. There are tactics you can learn to deal with bully negotiators who aren’t responsive, such as timing pressures and going above and beyond expectations. All these topics are covered in the course.
Using Social Awareness
Course material expands upon the spectrum of relationships that exist between client and negotiator, including how to work cross-culturally and confronting gender assumptions.
“When we discuss negotiation styles in the classroom, women often remark on how they aren’t asking for the same things as their male colleagues,” says Falcomer.
It is important to consider how gender constructs can be reinforced over a woman’s lifetime, pushing them to act nicer and demand less. This is just one example of how unconscious behaviour expresses itself during negotiation.
Students are often stunned when they realize how these influences can subtly guide them during a deal. For example, the principle of reciprocity — an automatic need to give something back when something is received — is a basic tenet within the psychology of relationships. Learning to leverage these gut feelings can be a powerful tool when managing everything from leasing and renewals to vendor contracts.
Recognize Physical Cues
Body language is among the other skills highlighted in the course. Students learn approaches to personal space, voice and tone – factors that help figure out what people are really saying behind their words.
“People think they are experts in understanding how people react to situations, but we’ve proven poor at interpreting,” Falcomer cautions. “Our gut reactions are quite good.”
For a smoother experience, a negotiator can also influence others using body language techniques like mirroring – where you subtly imitate the behavior of the person you are interacting with. We tend to prefer people who move like us, look like us and wear similar attire – so mirroring these expressions can help build rapport in a relationship.
Overcome Communication Barriers
Common communication barriers are also addressed, such as confrontation and emotional negotiating, which often stems from lack of planning. It is crucial to know alternatives should you fail to reach an agreement. Ethical dilemmas present other types of barriers, like assuming a client’s problem isn’t your problem.
“This type of thinking reduces creativity and the value you can get out of a relationship,” Falcomer says. “What we teach is quite powerful: how to leverage likeability and reciprocity and appeal to higher authority. We underscore how an ethical attitude will always get you a better outcome.”
To learn more about the Certified Leasing Officer (CLO) designation or the Negotiation and Documentation in Commercial Leasing course, please visit: www.reic.ca