Calibrate your questions.
Questions that begin with “what,” “how,” and sometimes “why” move a conversation towards solutions and give your counterpart the illusion of control. It allows the other side to come up with ideas and provides you with information about their mindset. These questions are called “calibrated” because they allow you to simply guide the negotiation in the direction you are asking it to go. Calibrated questions are a way of “asking for help,” which tells the other side you need their intelligence to overcome the problem. This technique can be very helpful with aggressive or egotistical counterparts. When you’re attacked in a negotiation, pause and avoid an angry emotional reaction. Instead, ask your partner a calibrated (“what,” “how,” or “why”) question. This shifts the focus from conflict to a problem/solution conversation.