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Leave your ego at the door

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)

38 Ego

Ego can play a healthy or an unhealthy role in any negotiation. Ego plays a healthy role when it is based in real self-esteem earned through self-discipline, practical experience, and maturity of character. Ego plays an unhealthy role when the abovementioned qualities are lacking or not developed, and when it is compensating for insecurity, immaturity, and low self-esteem.

Ego is not a substitute for confidence, a wise counsellor, or a reliable source of motivation. When you have well-rounded skills and well-founded self-esteem, you don’t need to be egotistical. You can be supremely confident, yet have real humility. You can walk softly because you are carrying a big stick.

A great negotiator must learn to master ego, to set it aside. Unmastered ego is a liability, a hindrance to the process and outcome of any negotiation. It diminishes our capacity for self-awareness, and our discernment and empathy with others. It tends to personalise everything, and take everything personally. It creates competition and conflict where neither are necessary, and focuses on winning, to the detriment of the negotiation and the deal. A person under the influence of ego would prefer to win the battle and lose the war, killing the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Great negotiators are not driven by ego. They don’t personalise the negotiation, and don’t take things personally, even if they are intended that way. They don’t react or become offended by negative personal comments directed at them. They never stoop so low as to insult or abuse the other party, even if the other party insults or abuses them.

Great negotiators maintain resolute focus on the imperatives of the deal, and are committed to resolving outstanding issues in a mutually satisfactory way. If the deal is unacceptable or not possible, they maintain their dignity and walk away – something ego cannot do.

In the early stages of a negotiation, information and knowledge-gathering are critical. This is a good time to observe and assess yourself, to relax and set your ego aside. Then you observe the other party, to see whether they are being egotistic or not.

A great negotiator checks his or her ego with his or her hat and coat outside the negotiating room. A great negotiator is able to set aside ego, especially when it is aggravated or provoked. This requires inner skills not commonly associated with doing business. It requires self-development, commonly associated with spiritual practices like meditation, and self-observation that lead to clear awareness, self-knowledge, and self-control.

Mastering ego requires self-awareness – a capacity to recognise your own ego and set it aside. It requires self-confidence – an ability to relax, be fully present, and effectively engaged in stressful circumstances. It requires self-control – an ability to not react when your emotions have been triggered. All these things allow you to use your ego effectively, instead of letting it run you. They make you more able to observe ego operating in others, and to respond effectively from a place of “non-egotism”. And this gives you a decisive advantage in any negotiation, and in life.

For example, when dealing with someone who is being egotistic, you can ask that person questions about his or her background and prior accomplishments, highlighting their value and importance, or make polite or friendly comments designed to please or appease his or her ego.
This puts that person at ease and increases the likelihood of a successful outcome. Ideally, both parties are aware enough, and mature enough, to set aside their egos and meet in a responsible and cooperative spirit. But this is often not the case. Typically, one or both parties will be operating under the influence of their ego to a greater or lesser degree. So you might as well include the other person’s ego in the negotiation in a way that works to your advantage.


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