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Connecting through humanity

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)

56 Human moment

There may come a time in a negotiation when the disclosure of personal vulnerability can be a pivotal human moment that changes the outcome of a negotiation. This “tactic,” for lack of a better word, is the equivalent in a negotiation of a “Hail Mary pass,” or throwing yourself on the mercy of the court.

For example, suppose you are negotiating a deal that will make or break your fortunes – perhaps bankrupt you and your company. Suppose the outcome of the negotiation will dramatically impact the financial well-being of you, your family, and/or your employees. Suppose your wife, husband, or child has cancer or was severely injured in an accident, and you need this deal to pay for hospital expenses. And, as the negotiation proceeds, it becomes clear that you are not going to achieve what you need to avoid personal or financial catastrophe. At this point in the negotiation, you have nothing to lose.

Whatever your truly dire circumstances may be, the aim of the moment is to make the other party realize the urgent or life-or-death stakes you are facing; that your fate or that the well-being of your company, family, employees depends on the outcome of the negotiation. The “tactic,” if it can be called so, is to shift from your professional negotiator persona to being the genuine, vulnerable human being that you are in that moment. In the human moment, authenticity and telling the truth become a higher priority than professional dignity and tactical strategy. The hope is that the other party will respond in human fashion, take your situation into account, and make a reasonable concession that will allow you both to get your most basic needs in the negotiation met. People are often willing to make such concessions when they realise the extraordinary circumstances involved. And, such moments come only rarely, if ever.

It needs to be said that the human moment must be completely sincere and authentic, and only used when the stakes are for real and all else has failed. Use it sparingly and only use it if you are forced to, with no alternative available option. It should not be used falsely, as a con, nor regularly, as a strategy, simply to get a better deal. To do this undermines the foundation of integrity and self- esteem that are the spine of a great negotiator. Using the human moment as a Machiavellian strategy corrupts your character; and being found out later will ruin your reputation.

By showing your vulnerability you run the real risk that the other party could become ruthless and take advantage of you in your position of weakness. However, even bullies have been known to not kick a person when he is really down. But know it’s a calculated risk that only you assess within the tenor of the negotiation.


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