Whether we know it or not, we’re negotiating all the time – from business partners, vendors, investors, and employees to spouses, or kids, or other family members.

Negotiation is essentially the process by which we reach agreements.  The most successful negotiators are able to think on their feet to instantly respond to new information.

This is where improv (short for improvisational theater or performance) can make a big difference in the success of your next negotiation.  Improv teaches us to set aside our personal agendas and egos.  It teaches us how to listen, sense others around us, trust our instincts, and be spontaneous and confident in the moment.

Much like successful negotiators, improv actors need to listen carefully, communicate clearly, and be spontaneous at any given moment.  These same skills are critical to negotiating.

The basic rule of improv is to say “Yes, and…”  When you say  “Yes, and…,” you accept what the other person says and then you build on it.

This rule is so effective in negotiating because everyone wants to feel heard and valued. And even just listening can be a powerful concession to the other person’s need to be heard.

By the same token, when you say “Yes, and…” in a negotiation, you immediately take your ego off the table.  You acknowledge the other person’s reality and add to it as a partner in the solution, not as someone who knocks it down by saying “but.”

Essentially, saying “Yes, and…” builds on others’ ideas and keeps the conversation moving forward.  Most importantly, everyone feels heard and valued.  And that is how you connect with other people.

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