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Don’t make an ass out of you and me

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Negotiation touches every part of our lives. Relationships in business and in our personal lives are negotiated. And the skills to do it effectively can often mean the difference between getting what you want or losing out. You don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate!

In the first section of the book, How to be a Great Negotiator, written by property economist, investor and developer Neville Berkowitz, the characteristic traits of a great negotiator are explored in short, bite-sized nuggets of advice.

Over the next 132 days, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.

(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)

8 Assumptions

During any negotiation, be aware that you are often making guesswork assumptions that may or may not be correct. Things can go awry when you imagine your assumptions are facts instead of working hypotheses.

You never know with certainty or in detail the motivations and intentions of the other party. Sometimes people disguise their real motivations and intentions, leading you down the proverbial “garden path”. And sometimes people aren’t fully aware of their own complex motivations. If you want to understand their undisclosed motivations and intentions, you need to do some on-the-spot conversational research.

A common negotiating mistake is to project your own reference points, preferences, and thought processes onto the other party. It helps to remember that any negotiation is like a poker game. Great negotiators, like good poker players, know how to read people. They understand the subtle body language by which people express their feelings and reveal their “hands”. (The later section on body language will teach you how to do this.)

Great negotiators know which cards have been played and, through a combination of experience, intuition, and calculation, they are able to determine the other player’s hand.

A great negotiator does not cling to assumptions as if they were facts because he or she knows a negotiation process is fluid, and more is always being revealed. So, a great negotiator is refining assumptions throughout the process in the light of new data revealed through ongoing observation, asking questions, listening carefully, assessing data, and observing verbal and nonverbal cues, all of which reveal the other party’s hidden motivation and intentions.

We all make assumptions all the time, almost exclusively from our own biased viewpoint. We tend to believe, or at least to behave, as if our assumptions are facts. And this is where the folly of assumptions occurs. As the old saying goes, “When I assume, I make an ass out of you and me.” (“Ass-u-me”) Always remember that your assumptions are only guesses based on very personal and subjective probability ratings in your mind. If it were a known fact, it would not be an assumption. Remember, beliefs are ingrained assumptions, and assumptions are guesswork based on current relative knowledge, information, and experience. Tomorrow, or in a week, a month, a year, your knowledge, information, and experience will change and hopefully refine your assumptions and operating protocols, and make you an even better negotiator than you are today.

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