In the last 4.5 years since I released The Art of Negotiation and it’s fair to say this book has been a much needed guide to negotiation and how to handle everyday business dealings in a world that idolises short-termism, victimhood and lack of awareness learning how to negotiate well.
Entrepreneurs facing the current economic environment, VC investment is harder to garner, sales managers struggling to hit targets whilst responsible for growth with limited or restricted resources, households looking to batten down the hatches and make ends meet.
Learning to negotiate is a skill that benefits you in every situation, whether entrepreneur, business leader or household CEO.
Expert negotiation is the ability to create more than was previously available. A world class negotiator is able to get the desired outcome whilst expanding their network and relationships.
Proficiency increases with miles on the clock.
Growth comes from the experience.
The main problem people face with negotiation is, it’s not a big deal, until it is a big deal, until it really matters, when you need to get the house rented out but the market is tough, when that job interview is going well but you must seal the deal.
When you are suddenly made redundant and now find yourself trying to negotiate a job contract, it might seem like you have less power, but do you really?
Negotiation matters and learning to feel calm in the situations is the key. The ability to slow down time and think through the appropriate response, to have a strategy, and to feel confident dealing with new and sometimes uncompromising individuals is vital to your success.
What I am about to detail has the power to change not only your relationships, wealth and opportunity but also your life. If you master the concepts I outline below you have the potential to radically upgrade your future and outperform the masses.
Introducing my H.U.M.A.N approach to negotiation.
Despite thinking that you know how to listen and communicate it becomes increasingly harder when you’re in a negotiation that is going to define and impact your future financially, emotionally and spiritually. If you can’t hear the other side, what they are expressing, under the bluffs, bravado, and chess moves, if you can’t read the subtleties of their body language and keep your cool to get to the route of their motivation you miss the major element of how you get what you want. The pressure of what the potential opportunity (if achieved) represents to you blurs the senses, it adds complexity, depletes focus, distracts from the objective. Top negotiators don’t think, they act, they are in the moment, it’s instinctive, they are in flow. The shut out the noise, they don’t react to the loaded comments, the anchors, the positioning of interests from the other side and continue on to pursue a quest for a deeper understanding of the other party. When you focus deeply on them and they feel heard, truly heard, fear dissipates and collaboration and creativity emerges, it’s like, where have you been hiding all this time, these magic elements appear because the first door to trust has been opened. When someone feels heard, they lean in, open up and share more valuable information that is actually useful, then together you build. This act of ‘hearing’ can be misconstrued as weakness but when you do it properly you are the one in control, you are the one giving the other side the opportunity to open through your actions, you are calm, controlled and tuned into them. You want to offer and create value where you can and this can only be done effectively when you get to the heart of the matter of what they want. Is it respect, guarantees, recognition, speed, loyalty, exclusively. The only way to find out is to hear your way through by asking probing questions. This brings me to the next step.
Once the other party feel heard they must be unlocked, this helps you uncover the detail. It’s like disarming a bomb, the bomb has been set to go off because that’s what society and education teaches us, protect and defend. You are showing a new way, a human way, where you humanise the experience. You truly care and seek to understand. Emphatically. Think about, without understanding them, how can you share your needs. Like any relationship, it’s formed through exchange and built over time on trust. Questions like, “imagine it’s a year from now, we’re at lunch with you and your whole team and we’re celebrating together, it's been the best year, what would have to happen to make that happen?” This ideation process takes them out of protective mode and into imagination and possibility. You want to be operating on this realm to invoke possibility mindedness. Restriction is removed. Like when a CEO comes to the Sales Director and says “ imagine you have unlimited head count, how should we expand across the globe?” Limitation in thinking creates inefficiency, assumptions and small mindedness. You want to play big, I know you do, therefore you’ve got to speak in the world of possibility and abundance when you are planning and getting to the heart of what the other side wants. Can you see why most don’t go down this line? It’s because they fear the other side, they fear them asking for too much, creating a desire for unrealistic expectations. The reason they fear it is because they are weak negotiators and don’t trust their own capabilities to guide the negotiation, they are in uncharted territory and it feels scary. Not that these leaders will admit this, they just won’t take this approach, therefore they miss the key step of unlocking and the negotiation is restricted, more distant and with develops friction as a result. Often this ends in compromise or failure.
What is the mindset you should employ when you are negotiating? Are you integrative or distributive. Are you competing or creating? You must operate with a bold mindset built on abundance, freedom and possibility. If you real want to get what you want. Anything less is less. Your mindset is what controls the outcome of the negotiation, how you think affects your attitude, your attitude controls the actions you take or don’t take, how far you will go to create a deal. Limited mindsets create limited vision which produce limited results. Like when you are tiered, you mentally have a harder time going to gym but when you have discipline and vision you push on regardless because it’s who you are, it’s part of your identity. Similarly, in negotiations, when you are an expert negotiator you understand the breadth of possibilities that exist in a given situation and you push on regardless using your skills of communication, questioning style, tone, imagination, willpower, stamina, creativity, intelligence, positivity, body language to produce the best result. We must operate from a big thinking type mindset when negotiating to be able to carry the negotiation forward into worlds undiscovered. When you face an inexperienced negotiator they are rigid, like a train they are stuck on rails and can only see in one direction, it becomes hard for them to imagine or entertain the idea of other options or solutions. As an experienced negotiator you are liberated, free from the tracks and guidelines, you have the ability to go up and down, forward, backwards or to the side, you are multi-dimensional. By default this type of mindset allows you to negotiate with more confidence, make bolder, more clear requests, hesitate less, and be in the moment acting from that place of flow. You have to believe it is possible and see it before it happens. In doing so you can have empathy for the other side. You can help them grow and discover new ways of doing things and producing results. You can influence their way of thinking and bring them over to your way of thinking. Part of this mindset is also about being able to handle rejection. I know, it’s tough, no one likes being rejected, this is because it happens so little to us it feels like a massive deal when it happens in a negotiation. Whereas top negotiators who are negotiating day in and day out face this all the time, therefore rejection doesn't faze them, they don't attribute sadness or loss to rejection, in fact it provides a source of power.
The H.U.M.A.N approach to negotiation was formed because at its core we are all human, we all want something, we want the best for our families, we have desires, hopes and wishes and remembering this can help you improve your negotiation skills. When you should up as yourself in the negotiation, you are more at ease, you can relate better to the other side, you can hear them because you can hear yourself. When you try to present the image of someone you are not, you spend you mental energy controlling that image and as a result increase the mental workload and stress in a situation that can create additional stress. By showing up as yourself in an authentic manner and responding in this way it breaks the tension, it builds trust. When you are faking it, you are disingenuous, it causes a mis-match in what you are saying and how you are acting. Ultimately your body gives away how you real feel, even on a subconscious level. Therefore in highs stakes negotiations, you want to be as close to yourself as possible, to relax and feel free. Not in the sense that you don’t care but in the sense that you care enough to be human, to be real, to let some vulnerabilities show. In the realness comes a power. When you are real you know intuitively what you want, you can’t be moved as easily and you can bring humour into the negotiation. It’s easier to get respect from the other side because they ‘see’ you. This doesn't mean you reveal everything or don’t make bold requests with confidence. Quite the opposite, because you are authenticated and making the request it gives you more options, you aren’t faced with lying to cover your tracks, or feeling like an imposter. You have less cognitive dissonance and therefore can act in alignment with your values and integrity. You know what’s right. There are many many ‘gurus’ on the internet who make out how negotiation is all about hustling the other side or only presenting a certain image but I counter this argument with repudiation. You want to be known as a sharp negotiator who is genuine, can be trusted to stick to their word and deliver the deal as it was agreed. This brings me to my final part of the H.U.M.A.N approach to negotiation - this is about network.
This is what the whole game of negotiation is about , when you really win at negotiation you do so because you get what you want and you build your network. Network is super important. All business results accelerate from network. Anyone can negotiate a quick short term killer deal that completely rips the face off the other side once. But try this enough times and soon you’ll be landed with a reputation that's hard to shift plus it’s not really skilful negotiation just hard balling the other side and taking advantage of being inflexible, it’s not skill just strategy and it works because the other side is not skilled enough so rather than loose by not doing the deal at all, they just backdown and give in to the demands. The element of network changes all of this, you go from winner takes all, to winner creates all. It’s more competitive, bulletproof and gives you more options. Think about it, the person with the biggest network, wins! Become a deal maker so proficient that you do good deals, that give you what you want and build incredible business relationships with influential people. Winners want to be around other winners.
So there you have it in brief form, H.U.M.A.N centred negotiation wins hands down every time, you feel in alignment and able to confidently negotiate from a place of control, discipline and possibility.
Remember these steps the next time you face a negotiation situation where you need to pull it off.