Engineers Learn to Negotiate

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When people ask me the most important skill I can learn to become better at my job and get promotions, I always tell them: The art of communication and human interaction. When working as engineers we are interacting with many people on daily basis. It is crucial for us to learn how to negotiate and persuade people. In this talk, we will cover 3 main techniques to become a better negotiator. these techniques can help us interact with others more effectively, get our projects approved, get promoted easier and even help us in our life.

8 min
14 May, 2021

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AI Generated Video Summary

During this Talk, the speaker emphasizes the importance of negotiation skills in the tech industry and how it can help grow one's career. Mirroring and labeling are discussed as effective techniques in building trust and reducing negative emotions. The concept of being a sponge is introduced, highlighting the significance of listening attentively in negotiations. The Talk concludes by emphasizing the importance of communication and negotiation skills for engineers and encourages self-reflection and improvement.

1. Introduction to Negotiation

Short description:

During these 10 years of working in the tech industry, I learned how negotiation and software can grow your career and make you reach your goals even faster. As programmers, I believe we interact with others most of the time. The code is not only for the machine to read. It's also for humans to read, understand, and later on debug. Negotiations is actually art of an engaging and evolving, during an active conversation. The first tip that we are going to talk about today is mirroring. Mirroring is critical for information gathering side of a negotiation.

During these 10 years of working in the tech industry, I learned how negotiation and software can grow your career and make you reach your goals even faster. That's why today we're going to talk about negotiation in a technical conference.

A little bit about me. I'm Nass. I work at Netflix as an individual contributor. You can find me on my website or on Twitter. I am a cat mom, a coffeeholic, and I love stickers. Although I studied computer science, and I took a lot of non-academic courses during my career, none of those programs actually taught me how to negotiate and how to communicate and collaborate.

As programmers, I believe we interact with others most of the time. And during our daily work routine, we work with customers, with product managers, and every human involved in the process of software-making. Even when we code, we are communicating. The code is not only for the machine to read. It's also for humans to read, understand, and later on debug. I know that we are moving super quickly to get one feature after the other one out of the door. And most of us, in these times, we don't really think about communication and collaborations and how we can improve that as a part of our skillset. But when people ask me what is the most important skill I can learn to become a better software engineer and get promotion and become better at my career, I always tell them it's the art of communication and human interaction. And today we're going to talk about negotiations.

So what is negotiations? We think negotiations should be a pre-prepared type of a thing. When we have a meeting, we have to prepare a set of scenarios, a set of questions and go prepared to negotiate the best. But that's not true. Negotiations is actually art of an engaging and evolving, during an active conversation. It's gathering information as you're talking to the other person and analyze your next move as the conversation flies. The first tip that we are going to talk about today is mirroring. What is mirroring? Mirroring is critical for information gathering side of a negotiation. It's simply repeating the last one to three keywords of what the other side said, plus an active pause. Let's look at an example. My main concern is sorted though. As long as the encryption is happening on the client everywhere, we do it. That's what I wanted to know. Sorry to keep popping up with the question.

2. Mirroring and Labeling

Short description:

If you get this message, how do you apply mirroring? Why use mirroring? Mirroring shows that you are paying attention to the conversation and the other person. It's a factor in trust building. The second thing we're going to talk about is labeling. Labeling is used to acknowledge and reduce negative emotions. When you label emotion, it creates trust-based influence. Dynamic silence is like taking a pause and creates more impact on labeling and mirroring.

If you get this message, how do you apply mirroring? You took the keywords out of it and make a sentence with them and reply back such as, I will ensure the encryption happens on client everywhere. And then take an active pause.

Why use mirroring? Mirroring is actually shows that other parts that you are paying attention to the conversation. You're paying attention to the every word that they're saying because you're pulling those words out. It says that I heard your words. When you mirror, you connect to the other person. It's a factor in trust building, and trust building an essential factor in communication.

The second thing that we're going to talk about today is labeling. Every day we face a wide range of emotions at work. We get irritated, stressed, pressured, sad, we may even feel envy. These negative emotions can really hinder our performance at work. And one way to take away these frustrations from your colleagues and from the people who are experiencing these negative emotions is to acknowledge it, even from yourself.

Labeling is not only using negotiations, you can negotiate with yourself and use labeling. So, labeling is used as a voice to other sides feeling. You can just say when someone is frustrated, say, it seems like you're frustrated, it looks like you're sad, I understand that you're stressed. Just recognizing it, it reduces the negativity of that emotion. Let's look at some example. I've had a really difficult year and it seems like you're discounting all of the financial and personal stress I've been under. How do you reply to such a sentence which has wide range of negative emotions? We label. We acknowledge. We say, it seems like your concerns. I don't want you to be stressed. You went through too much this year. And just this sentence, you take away so much burden from the other side. Research shows when you label emotion, it reduces the negative impulse between two people and it creates trust-based influence. And trust is essential key to active and really effective communication. If you want both of these tips to be really great, you need to follow with dynamic silence. Dynamic silence will create more impact on labeling and mirroring. Dynamic silence is like taking a pause. Just count to three and pause.

3. Being a Sponge and Conclusion

Short description:

Pausing allows the label to sink in. Being a sponge in negotiation means listening attentively and letting the other person express themselves. Shift your focus from talking to listening in meetings. Communication and negotiation skills are important for engineers and shape other skills like leadership and persuasion. Reflect on your recent communications and learn from them. Use the provided resources to improve your negotiation skills.

Pausing will let that label sink in and reside with the audience mind.

Now to the last tip, be a sponge. Being in a sponge in a negotiation board is very different than being in a sponge in the business board. In business board, being in a sponge that you are constantly seeking to gather information. But in negotiation and communication world, it's actually the opposite. It means that you're listening with attention. You are a great listener. You let the other person express and communicate comfortably. So next time that you're in a meeting or you're talking to a colleague, try to be a great listener. Try to take away the need of just replying and try to control that. Let the other person express as much as they want as to you. So don't try to just talk back all the time. Keep it, hold it back and take a pause, take some silence and let the other person express. Your role as a sponge is to absorb those information. And it's to be patient. So next time you're in a meeting, try to shift your focus from being to being a listener from someone or an engineer who talks the most in the meeting. Absorb the information first and then come up with a statement.

When it comes to communication and human interaction, we really can summarize everything in a seven minute talk. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Humans are super complicated and they prefer personalized methods. As an engineer today, I want to take that lesson that communication and negotiation skills are really important part of the job. It shapes us as an engineer and shapes other skills such as leadership, persuasions and people management. What do you want to do right now? As a next step, try to reflect back on all the communications you had maybe in last week and see if you used any of these techniques that today we talked about. If not, try to think of how would you use these techniques. And next, try to learn. These are some resources on this slide that you can use to take this even further and be a better negotiator in your career.

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