Today, Fotini Iconomopoulos celebrates the launch of her first book, Say Less, Get More: Unconventional Negotiation Techniques to Get What You Want. It distills her years of experience as an educator, consultant, and speaker down to a set of simple and innovative strategies. At the same time, Fotini shows why it’s important to negotiate with a framework in mind while still having a flexible and thoughtful approach—it’s not a one-size fits all skillset.
Earlier this month, Fotini chatted with The Kit about some of the broad takeaways and insights that are found in the new book. She started with the meaning behind the title itself, focusing on why we need to choose our words carefully:
Allowing a silence to stretch in a negotiation is a power move, for starters. “There’s a quiet confidence in sitting there, like, ‘I’m going to wait for you to give me the information I want,’” says Iconomopoulos, who adds that the other party will often feel the need to fill the conversational void, offering valuable information in the process. It’s also a chance for you to take a meditative breath and order your thoughts in a stressful situation. “People assume you have to be quick on your feet and have these quick-witted responses,” says Iconomopoulos. “But the effectiveness comes in saying, ‘I’m going to take a moment to think this through.’ You look far more credible than if you’re thinking and talking at the same time.”
When you do speak, “ask great questions,” Iconomopoulos says. Avoid “yes” or “no” questions, which provide the other person with a chance to shut them down, and go for “how” or “what” Qs instead. “That gets the other person talking, and makes them feel like they’re part of the solution, when the reality is that by asking the questions, the one in charge of the conversation is you.”
Even with her helpful advice, Fotini goes on to admit that there’s always some risk at play whenever we negotiate. She hopes that her tools will help mitigate that risk. One of the most common challenges, she said, is balancing politeness with assertiveness. This can be an especially fine line to walk, more for some of us than others.
“I’ve learned from personal experience that what works for the majority doesn’t necessarily work for the less dominant groups,” Iconomopoulos says, nodding to some of her own early experiences consulting as a young Greek-Canadian woman in corporate America. “In an ideal world, women and other people who belong to less dominant groups wouldn’t have to be so careful about everything they say. Unfortunately, that’s not the world we operate in now.” But you don’t have to be some robo-version of yourself with a smile plastered on and your feelings shoved under a truckload of Valium. “It’s about being authentic, and using some of the tools that will enable you to communicate a little bit more effectively than if you were just free-wheeling it or guessing your way through the process.”
The article goes on to ask Fotini for quick advice on several common negotiation scenarios. Meanwhile, her book itself covers significantly more ground, with the primary takeaways listed as:
- Assess where your situation falls on the negotiation spectrum so you can adjust your tactics accordingly.
- Understand who you are negotiating with, their background and their goals, in order to develop your approach.
- Determine your starting position, your final outcome and a strategy to get there.
- Communicate effectively in any scenario, including learning what to say and when to say it if you can’t reach a deal.
- Manage the negotiation process, overcome obstacles and find common ground.
- Develop and foster excellent client relationships and networks.
Nicknamed “the negotiator” since childhood, Fotini Iconomopoulos is an expert communicator with a passion for helping organizations and individuals get what they want. For the last decade, she has been helping Fortune 500 clients and audiences to achieve their business goals, increase profitability, and create a competitive advantage. She thrives on empowering people to navigate through high-stake scenarios, and always leaves her audiences with tangible actions to immediately help them tackle their next challenge.