Words are weird. Sometimes people can interpret the same words and phrases to mean completely separate things, and could easily walk away from the conversation with a completely different interpretation. Additionally, some words carry a more charged meaning that could influence interpretation as well.
When negotiating with others, it is critical that all parties carefully consider their language and which terms they use as they engage others in conversations. The use of particular words or misusing phrases can seriously impede the progression of negotiations and derail them significantly – sometimes to the point where they cannot be recovered.
Loaded language is often used in order to try to influence someone's opinion on a particular subject. For example, "freedom fighter" and "terrorist" can often be used to describe the same person, yet person who is being spoken to could walk away with completely different viewpoints based on which term is used. While leveraging loaded language can influence negotiations positively, it can also needlessly intensify situations.
A look at some charged words
For example, take the word "need." It gets thrown around commonly in business situations – someone needs a project done next month or they need a piece of equipment repaired today. In negotiations, one party may need specific services at a certain price or may need the other party to come down on their offers.
However, as Forbes noted, people in the workplace have a big tendency to overuse the word "need," to the point where it can raise stress levels and get people worked up. The word "need" refers to something that is absolutely vital – if someone does not drink water for several days, they actually need to drink to survive. In the work place, "need" often takes place of the word "want" and gets thrown around because people are impatient and unwilling to bend.
Another example is the word "understand." People cannot make others simply "understand" in an effort to get them to make a favorable decision. Forbes suggests that casually walking into a situation trying to make everyone understand often only leads to greater confusion.
Presenting an argument or case should be more about building a vision for the other parties instead of simply trying to force them to understand another perspective. Arbitrary facts and sales presentations will not help the other party's understanding, instead, negotiators must appeal to their emotions.
Going into conversations with clear language
Before entering into negotiations, business leaders and executives should think carefully about the messages they want to convey and how to best go about that. From there, they can identify loaded language that could backfire against them and create charged situations, finding ways to ask questions or make statements while avoiding that terminology.
Conversations are never as straight-forward as they appear, but by being more careful about the language being used, businesspeople can make them less charged.