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The warrior’s spine

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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)

48 Fighting spirit

When Mark Twain wrote “It’s not the size of the dog in a fight, but the size of the fight in the dog!” he was talking about fighting spirit. A fighting spirit is the antidote to fear, and the secret heart of a great negotiator.

Negotiations are often about resolving seemingly conflicting interests and viewpoints between two equally determined parties. Some friction or tension is occasionally involved. This doesn’t mean conflict is inevitable, necessary, or useful. Animosity, hostility, bitter arguing, or fighting in a negotiation are counterproductive. And having a true fighting spirit can help you to deal effectively with and, hopefully, avoid needless conflict.

A fighting spirit does not involve being angry, argumentative, confrontational, hostile, or adversarial. All these are ego qualities that work against successful negotiating. They do not come from a fighting spirit, but from fear, insecurity, unresolved anger and emotional immaturity.

A true fighting spirit is courageous and affirmative, rather than angry and reactive. It is an expression of passionate commitment and real self-esteem. It is not “me fighting against you to get whatever I want,” but “me standing for, and if necessary, fighting for what I deserve or have earned”. If it comes to a fight, you are fully prepared and capable of fighting for what you believe is right in the situation, without being petty, retaliatory, mean-spirited, or vicious. This makes you a warrior in a negotiation.

A fighting spirit is a warrior’s spine. It is a determined “Yes!” to overcoming challenges and setbacks, to developing strength of character, to achieving meaningful goals. It is an unqualified “Yes!” to life that allows you to respond calmly or fiercely (as the moment requires) to confrontation or hostility, to challenges or setbacks. A fighting spirit is both the hurricane’s calm eye and its gale-force winds, but is used judiciously and appropriately, never as a mere force of destruction.

A fighting spirit is an attractive force that can surprise and inspire that can turn adversaries into admirers, and even into allies. When the other party senses your fighting spirit in a negotiation, they want to work with you rather than against you, to be your ally rather than your enemy, to be on your team rather than in your crosshairs.

A fighting spirit is commonly associated with great athletes, daredevils, military leaders and war heroes. But Mahatma Gandhi, a pacifist who weighed 120 pounds soaking wet and defeated the British Empire with “soul force,” is a supreme example of a fighting spirit. So was Martin Luther King Jr. These two men were among the greatest negotiators who ever lived.

On occasion, when dealing with difficult, uncooperative, or hostile parties, strong and stern sobering words or actions may become necessary. But avoid angry outbursts, accusations, threats, personal criticisms or inflammatory remarks that only reflect your loss of control. When a negotiation becomes mutually adversarial, it has run off the rails, and your fighting spirit has become ego-possessed.

When a negotiation becomes adversarial, it’s essential to maintain a true fighting spirit. Do not focus on the other party as an enemy. This only clouds your awareness and generates negative emotions in yourself. Focus on your commitment to what is right and fair in the given circumstances. Focus on the process that will allow you to resolve divisive issues or conflicting interests and achieve a positive outcome. Remember that a negotiation is not about defeating the other party, but about resolving issues, coming to agreements, and achieving your objectives. A great negotiator knows what the other party considers to be a “win” in their book and strives to achieve that while ensuring that he or she achieves their own objectives as well.


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