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Now, build a bridge

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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)

39 Empathy

Empathy is the capacity to intuitively understand, share, and feel the feelings and the plight of another. It involves being emotionally present and patient in listening to the other party’s verbal and nonverbal messages. It is the root from which spring what are commonly called “people skills”. Empathy differs from compassion, which implies a desire to help alleviate pain, loss, and distress in others. Empathy is more about simply being present with another, bonded in sympathetic communion.

Empathy is not weakness. It doesn’t make you incapable of negotiating from a position of strength and closing with dynamic confidence. It strengthens your connection to others, giving you a clearer sense of who they are, where they’re coming from, what’s driving them, and what they hope to gain. It allows you to more clearly read their feelings, thoughts, and concerns. And this makes you a better negotiator.

More than a negotiation tool, empathy is a human quality, like discipline or integrity, that enriches you, influences others, and makes you better at what you do. When you are empathetically connected to someone, they sense and respond to that connection with trust and openness. They will be more likely to look to you for assistance, advice, and guidance.

Empathy is more than a good feeling in a social interaction. Empathy builds a bridge between two parties, sometimes using the material from the walls that initially separated them. It allows you to bond with the other party and find common understandings that lead to mutually satisfactory outcomes. It provides an emotional/spiritual foundation for win/win negotiations.

Empathy is not a mask you wear to fool someone into thinking you care when you don’t, in order to exploit his or her trust and vulnerability. A great negotiator never abuses the trust and confidences created through an empathetic connection. For this turns empathy into predatory manipulation, which is not empathy at all, but trickery that will soon be recognised. When another allows you into their hallowed inner ground, even in a negotiation, respect it fully in every way. To do otherwise diminishes you as a negotiator and a human being.

Empathy is the humanity you bring to a negotiation that turns an impersonal transaction into a business relationship. It should be clear by now that to be a great negotiator requires you to be a basically good and decent human being. Excluding humanity from business only makes business inhumane. You end up sacrificing character for profit – never a worthy trade. Thus, the question, “What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

To develop empathy you must develop a genuine interest in others. Part of empathy is curiosity about people, curiosity about the human being behind the social mask or negotiating persona. A great negotiator is genuinely interested in who the other party is and why they want what they want. A great negotiator wants to understand the other party’s character, intentions, and motivations, and to see the view from their side of the table.

This curiosity and interest in who the other person is establishes an empathetic bond that makes you a more effective and more appealing negotiator. And this is the key to developing fruitful business relationships that endure long after the negotiation is over.


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