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Bulking Up

A little training each day helps you pump up your game at the bargaining table.

By Marc Diener • May 5, 2006 Originally published Feb 2, 2004

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When I was young, I dreamed of becoming a classical musician. Ispent countless hours mastering scales, arpeggios and the like.When I sat down to play tough pieces, all those finger exercisesreally paid off. Can deal-makers improve their negotiating chopsthrough daily practice? I think so. Here's what I suggest:

  • Listen.
  • Any decent book on communicationskills will tell you how truly difficult it is to be a goodlistener. It doesn't come naturally. Pick somebody each day topractice on. You already know the drill: Don't interrupt;don't judge; don't go away on a mental holiday. I don'tknow about you, but I almost always pick up great businessintelligence when I really listen.
  • Learn to be a good conversationalist.
  • Ask open-ended questions-the ones thatcannot be answered with a simple "yes" or "no."Hint: They begin with how, why, what, who, where or when. This ishow to gauge your opponents' vulnerabilities and ferret outtheir underlying interests.

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