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What can DJs Teach Architects About Negotiation Strategy?

Do you have a fee negotiation strategy? 

Today I want to show you a very simple strategy to help you induce a sense of calm into all your fee negotiations.

Let’s start with a question – how can DJs help you develop your fee negotiation strategy? 


To answer that question I would like to introduce the following statistics, originally published by Albert Mehrabian, in his 1967 paper “Decoding of Inconsistent Communications”:

According to the paper, approximately 55% of human communication is conveyed by our body language, 38% by our voice (use of tones, and inflections) and 7% by the words we choose to use.

Body Language

Although the exact interpretation of these statistics has long been the subject of much debate, I think it’s safe to say that, when discussing fees for design services, what you say, is just as important, as how you say it!

Communication as a negotiation strategy:

The tone, tempo, and volume of your voice has a tremendous impact on how your negotiation partner feels, and therefore how they respond, during a negotiation.

Negotiation strategy expert:

According to the former FBI hostage negotiator, Chris Voss, and author of the bestselling negotiation book ‘Never Split the Difference’, there are three voice types that one can adopt during a negotiation:

(Note: To help you with all your fee negotiation situations we’ve created a Fee Proposal Mini-Series that shows you the 3 biggest fee proposal mistakes and (more importantly) how to avoid them. CLICK HERE for more information):

Fee Proposal Mini-Series

Three Voice Types:

  • the positive playful voice,
  • the direct and assertive voice, and
  • the late-night DJ voice.

Which Voice should Architects & Interior Designers Adopt during Negotiations?

When approaching a stressful negotiation situation, to help keep your negotiation partner calm, you should try adopting the ‘late-night DJ voice’ – slow the conversation down, adopt a deep, soft, and reassuring tone, and use downward inflections at the end of a sentence to induce a relaxed response.

Remember good negotiators are good listeners. Don’t go to the negotiation looking to justify your position. Instead, adopt the late-night DJ voice, ask the right questions and turn a potentially stressful situation into a more relaxed and enjoyable discussion.

Want to improve your Negotiation skills?

This is just one example of how you can improve your design fee negotiation situation.

However, it’s not the best way! The best way is to avoid the negotiation altogether by creating a fee proposal strategy that allows the client to negotiate against themselves… so that you don’t have to!

To help explain how we’ve created a 3-part Fee Proposal Mini-Series that’s currently available to watch FREE of charge. CLICK HERE for details.