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)
Most people believe they are primarily rational and driven by logic; but few people are. In fact, people are largely emotional (with a pinch of logic thrown in), being primarily driven by their feelings and reactions to things. Emotions buy, logic sells. In any negotiation where the stakes are high, people are under pressure. And wherever people are under pressure, emotions will tend to trump logic and drive decisions. In such situations, we may think we are being logical, but usually our logic has become a function of our emotions. This means that we unwittingly use logic to justify our emotional impulses in the moment, rather than following some overarching and rational plan.
Think about it: most impulsive or emotional decisions and actions are preceded by a seemingly intelligent thought process that rationalises whatever your impulse is telling you to do. You want to do it; you explain or justify to yourself or others why it’s okay, or right, or necessary to do it; and then you do it. But, in reality, your emotions were the deciding factor.
As with ego, a great negotiator is able to remain calm under pressure and set his or her emotions aside. This also takes maturity, self-discipline, and self-control. And your ability to manage your own emotions makes you more capable of dealing effectively with the emotional moods and behaviours of the other party.
You manage your emotions the same way you manage your ego; the two are intertwined. When you first sit down at the negotiation table, relax and breathe. Be present to what you are feeling. Calmly observe your environment and the other party. Continue relaxing. Notice any feelings you have about the negotiation or the other party – nervousness, irritation, excitement, frustration, etc.
Now, take a moment to observe and assess the other party, to X-ray them emotionally. Believe it or not, you do this naturally already with your emotional or empathic intuition. You can discern their emotions from their eyes, their facial expressions, their body language. When you observe and tune into the other party from your calm, relaxed centre, you can often sense emotions such as happiness, sadness, anger, admiration, fear, agitation, calmness, greed, friendliness, enmity, neutrality, etc., in varying degrees and shades. This tuning in will give you a sense of their character and how best to deal with them. And, as the negotiation proceeds, more will be revealed through words, actions, and attitudes.
By consciously relaxing and feeling your feelings, you inhabit a calm centre of awareness. In this calm centre, you are objectively related both to your emotions or feelings and to what is going on around you. You are able to be fully present, yet detached – aware of the bigger picture, yet focused on your primary objectives.
This calm, centered place of awareness and emotional self-control – not the biggest chair, not the head of the table – is the real power position in any negotiation. When you can maintain a calm centre, you can manage and channel your emotions instead of allowing them to run you.
Your ability to maintain a calm emotional centre also allows you to respond more effectively to the emotions and behaviours of others when they are unable to manage themselves. You can adjust your approach to their emotional state. You can even alter the mood in the room, making it calmer, happier, livelier, or more serious, according to the need of the moment. This increases your chances of a successful negotiation.
Emotional self-control involves not taking anything personally. By taking things personally, you invite your reactive emotions into the negotiation and mingle them with the issues at stake. In doing so, you give up the power position and jeopardise the negotiation.
Losing emotional control in a negotiation is generally a fight-or-flight adrenaline response to stress, frustration, anger, or fear. This physiological response sends blood from your brain to your extremities to provide for extreme physical action. But this isn’t useful in a negotiation, where you need your brain functioning at maximum capacity.
So, find your calm centre. Don’t allow a negotiation to be driven by your emotions or the other party’s. Don’t lose your temper, especially if the other party loses theirs. Your uncontrolled reactive emotions only short-circuit you and agitate them. And when a negotiation becomes about emotions instead of issues, you’re not actually negotiating any more.
Learn to keep the negotiation on track when the terrain gets rough. If things get heated, remain calm and directly address any unresolved issues or misunderstandings that may have triggered the emotions. You can directly address and diffuse anger with candor and empathy. The general message to convey in word and attitude is, “I understand that you’re upset. Let’s address anything that’s bothering you. That’s why we’re here. We can resolve this so that we both feel good about the outcome.”