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Control through authenticity

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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)

 29 Control

Control is a tricky concept; something to strive for in a negotiation, yet something unattainable in an absolute sense. Everyone wants to feel like they’re in control in a negotiation. But part of a healthy negotiation requires giving up control. No one, not ourselves nor the other party, likes to be or feel controlled by another. Yet there is a kind of control that can be achieved, that allows you to manage a negotiation process, to keep it on track, and to keep your objectives front and centre, moving it toward a profitable outcome. Such control must be exercised artfully; you must not seem to be controlling, or trying to control, the other party, which might irritate, offend, or alienate them, thereby creating resistance and potential conflict.

Effective control in a negotiation is not dictating or bullying, and creates no conflict. Effective control is about directing the focus and process of a negotiation with an authority that flows from your clarity, preparation, presence, and strength. Creating a perception of power can give you a degree of control, but embodying authentic power gives you more. Qualities like graciousness, dignity, calmness, fairness, presence, and even generosity proceed from and create a perception of authentic power. Here are some ways to achieve control in a negotiation:

  • Draw up an agenda beforehand, listing all your essential points in order, and hand it out to the other parties.
  • Be fully prepared; be fully present; be relaxed, calm, and confident.
  • Sit or stand upright and make direct and engaging eye contact.
  • See yourself as the conductor of the negotiation process, with the other party as the orchestra.
  • As you come to agreements on each point, calmly write out the agreed-upon details next to each point on your list. (Use an elegant, expensive pen. Like a conductor’s baton, such a pen is a visible symbol of power and authority.)
  • Listen attentively to the other party, summarise what has been agreed upon at each step of the process, and then keep the initiative by introducing the next point. This puts you in the driver’s seat and allows you to control the pace, detail, and flow of the negotiation.

But don’t be obsessed with the idea of control, or get carried away by your efforts to control, for that is the way to lose control. And don’t be rigid, grim, and all business. Relax. Be relational. Finding little moments of humour and goodwill to share with the other party helps you achieve the kind of control we’re speaking of here. You can be a dynamic salesperson who controls a negotiation and achieves their objectives, and still be a warm and engaging personality. You can control a negotiation in this way, and still achieve a win/win outcome that satisfies both parties.

In the end, controlling a negotiation is not about defeating or outsmarting the other party who is being perceived as an adversary. It is about operating at a level of clarity, focus, and intent that allows you to keep things moving forward on track to a successful conclusion, creating the best achievable outcome for you that is also acceptable to the other party.


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