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)
In medieval Europe, the handshake originated as a gesture shared by two knights to show that neither was holding a weapon. Eventually, this gesture of peaceful intentions became a gesture of common courtesy. The intent of courtesy is to show respect, to demonstrate peaceful intentions, and hopefully to elicit a similar reassuring response in return. It creates a cordial bond and atmosphere between two or more parties in which fruitful relations can develop. Therefore, courtesy is a prerequisite of any negotiation.
Courtesy is a principle of ideal behavior to be upheld, if possible, under all conditions, regardless of the behavior of others. The highest ideal of courtesy is the Golden Rule. If the other party is aloof, impolite, rude, or insulting toward you, your organisation, your product, or service, maintaining courtesy is usually the wisest response. This demonstrates your self-control and strength of character, and gives you the moral authority and power in the situation.
Abandoning the high-ground of courtesy and reacting in kind serves no useful purpose. Retaliation is an act of weakness that has no value. Giving in to petty or retaliative impulses weakens your moral authority as a human being and as a negotiator. The ability to maintain your dignity and composure in any heated encounter is a litmus test of authentic power, and the mark of a mature human being and a great negotiator.
Unfortunately, you will inevitably encounter humans who are less than mature, and negotiators who are less than great. Some negotiators will try to shock, bully, lie, or intimidate in order to throw you off-balance. They may use passive-aggressive and manipulative psychological tactics to try to gain the upper hand.
Such negotiators view the other party as an adversary to be defeated by force or by cunning strategies. In dealing with such people, the best response is to simply be present and calm, with good humour, if possible. Maintaining courtesy and keeping your dignity in such moments keeps you in the power position.
Doing this requires intention, practice, and an expanded, even humorous, perspective. Try visualising manipulative, disengenuous, or adversarial negotiators as bratty or bullying three-year-olds throwing a tantrum in a sandbox. Recognise lying, bullying, and manipulation as an expression of immaturity, weakness, and fear, and perhaps even a perverse cry for acceptance, respect, and love.
It also helps to see difficult people and unpleasant negotiations as opportunities to develop your character and refine your negotiating skill. If you find yourself losing your temper, wanting to counterattack, consciously relax and pray for calmness and strength. See the troublesome, unhappy person in front of you, be grateful that you are not him or her, and hold a wish for that person’s healing and well-being.
If you really apply the above ideas, and practice courtesy in all situations, you will at times experience negotiation turnarounds that seem nothing short of miraculous. Negotiations that seemed dead will come to life, and the final results may exceed your original hopes.
Life necessarily involves a series of negotiations that begin at birth. We negotiate for food, attention, love, security, money, status, power, and more. And the ideal attitude for successful negotiation begins and ends with simple, respectful, and dignified courtesy.