Do you negotiate in your dental practice? Of course, you do. You negotiate with vendors over prices and cost; you negotiate with team members over hours and productivity; you negotiate with partners over the direction of your practice, etc. Then you come home from work and negotiate with your wife, your kids and even the dog. Every is always negotiating all the time over everything. Now, here’s my next question: are you a successful negotiator?  

Well, what does it mean to be a successful negotiator? Does it mean always winning the negotiation? If you were that ‘successful’ everyone would hate you and no one would want to work, live, play or get walked by you. So, that’s not really success, is it? 

Now, I consider myself a lucky and successful person. And I’m actually a good negotiator. After all, I scaled and sold and very successful dental practice organization and now I’m building another one. In my business, as in my life, I negotiate all the time. Recently, I’ve learned some powerful strategies for negotiating from none other than Chris Voss and I would like to share those strategies with you.  

Principles for Successful Negotiating in Your Dental Practice 

So, who’s Chris Voss? For many years, Chris was the lead kidnapping negotiator for the FBI as well as the FBI’s hostage negotiation representative for the National Security Council’s Hostage Working Group. Prior to that, he spent 14 years as a member of the New York City Joint Terrorist Task Force and was the lead case agent on several high-profile terrorist cases. He has spoken and taught at some of the world’s most important schools, programs and forums, including Harvard, USC, the G8, and many others. And he is the founder and CEO of The Black Swan Group.  

One of the most important principles I learned from Chris is that to have truly powerful negotiations, you want to make sure everyone wins. I love this principle because it means that you recognize that negotiations are really about relationships. The people you negotiate with are not people you will walk away from and never see again, typically. The people that you and I negotiate with are typically people we live with and work with daily, weekly, monthly, etc. So, you don’t want to be burning bridges just to get the best of someone in a negotiation. In fact, a good negotiation should lead to the next negotiation if you’re building a lasting relationship.  

You may be interested in this video:  

Lewis Howes Interview with Chris Voss

3 Tactical Negotiation Strategies for you, the Dental Entrepreneur 

The first strategy discussed by Chris Voss is Tactical Empathy. He emphasizes the importance of understanding the other party’s perspective and emotions during a negotiation. By actively listening and acknowledging the emotions and concerns of the other person, negotiators can build rapport and establish a foundation for constructive dialogue. Tactical empathy enables negotiators to gain valuable insights into the motivations and desires of the opposite party, ultimately leading to more successful outcomes. 

For instance, the next time you’re in discussions with your dental assistant because he is asking for more time off, try actively listening to why he needs or wants that time off. And then acknowledge that his reasoning is valid. If he wants more than you can afford right now, you can say something like, “I understand that you need more time off for rest and having more balance and fun in your life. I get that. I want that for you. Right now, the numbers don’t add up for all that you’re asking but why don’t we start with half the time you’re asking and then revisit this in six months. How does that sound?”  

The second technique highlighted in the webinar is Mirroring. Mirroring involves subtly imitating the body language, tone of voice, and certain key phrases used by the other person. This technique creates a sense of familiarity and trust, making the other party more comfortable and receptive to the negotiation process. By mirroring, negotiators can establish a connection that facilitates smoother communication, trust between parties and helps to build a positive relationship. 

This one is tricky because you don’t want to feel like you’re manipulating the other person just to get what you want. However, if you’re in a negotiation with a vendor and maybe she’s a tough negotiator, you want to walk away just as happy as she does, right? Learn to match her tone of voice. You can also repeat a key phrase you notice that she uses. Again, this strategy provides smoother communication with someone who is actively looking for the best deal for them.  

The third strategy presented by Chris Voss is Labeling. Labeling involves verbally acknowledging the emotions or concerns of the other party. By giving voice to the feelings that the other person may be experiencing, negotiators can demonstrate empathy and validate the emotions. This technique not only diffuses tense situations but also allows negotiators to gain greater control over the negotiation process. 

Say, you’ve got a patient who needs extensive work but is balking at that prospect. Wonderful! Take a moment to discover why they are hesitant. Is it money? “We can work out terms that work for you.” Or “I can speak with your insurance to let them know this is necessary.”  

Maybe their issue is fear around the procedures, the pain involved, the recovery time, how much time off work, etc. This is the opportunity for you to lay their fears to rest by explaining everything involved and putting them at ease.  

Be A Better Negotiator, Leader and Entrepreneur for Your Dental Practice

TBH, you may be using some of these strategies already. And by making them conscious habits, you will up your negotiating game. When speaking and negotiating with your teams, partners, vendors and even patients you can use these techniques to build rapport, trust and empathy to successfully negotiate 100% of the time.  

But I have found something else too. These strategies have not just made me a better negotiator, they’ve made me a better leader; a better entrepreneur; a better team member; a better dentist; and even a better husband and father.  

Learning to reach across the table and see the other person’s point of view, desires, fears and struggles humanizes my negotiating counterparts. And it does the reverse. My teams, vendors and patients trust me and know that I’ve got their best interests in mind as well. It’s a win-win.  

You may also be interested in Chris’ book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depended on ItIn it, you learn so much more, like, the importance of remaining calm and composed during negotiations, as well as using open-ended questions to gather valuable information.  

You know another scenario that involves negotiating like a pro? Scaling your dental practice. If you’re planning on growing or scaling your practice these skills will come in very handy. You can learn to walk away with exactly what you want from the entities you’ll be in discussions with. These skills will also help you when you look for a partner for your practice. Are you planning on scaling your dental practice? Take our assessment right now and find out if we’re a right fit for you.