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 few months, we will bring you the traits needed to succeed at the art of negotiating.
(Courtesy of PersonalEmpowerment.co)
123 X-factor – visionary expectations create a new reality
Have you ever watched group behaviour in nature? A school of fish swarming in unison to avoid danger? A herd of gazelles fleeing a lion? A flock of geese flying south for the winter? Man also acts in a herd mentality, in panicked or angry mobs, in political rallies, in rock concerts, in Black Friday holiday shopping sprees, in New Year’s celebrations and 4th of July parades, on crowded freeways and subways, and also in response to advertising strategies by which most of the goods and services in the world today are bought and sold. The herd mentality stimulates people to conform or behave in ways they might not choose or dare to do on their own.
Such behaviour can be positive or negative, limiting or liberating, creative or destructive. Yet the herd mentality can be harnessed to positive, transformative goals and purposes. The mass movements of social and political change initiated by Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrate the positive and transformative aspects of this herd mentality. King’s “I have a dream” speech and Gandhi’s inspired Salt March drew masses of individuals into direct action. Inspired by a vision of a new possibility that transcended the limiting beliefs and laws of their respective cultures, these herd actions dramatically changed both nations. The recent Arab Spring and 99% movements represent the same possibility of transformative change.
But there is a dark side to the herd mentality, demonstrated in mass movements like the Nazism of Germany and the self-destructive frenzy of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: only a small percentage of people are conscious enough to resist the unconscious herd impulse and stay on their own chosen track.
The creators of new herds
And only an even smaller percentage dare to really stick their necks out for what they believe, to take serious risks for their goals, and leave the safety of the herd to follow their own vision and do their own thing. These include the lone wolves, the independents, the mavericks, the creative visionaries, the trend-setters, and the entrepreneurs of the world. The rest live contentedly or discontentedly in the herd comfort zone, avoiding risk and playing it safe, lowering their expectations and getting by, buying popular products, believing the daily news, supporting the status quo, and never fulfilling their true potential and achieving meaningful success. These “typical consumers” are the key target market for most products sold, most politicians running for office, and most scams and cons perpetrated.
Like it or not, man is by nature a herd animal. And it’s up to each of us to decide where we fit or don’t fit in any particular herd and whether to follow it blindly, attempt to steer it in a better direction, or leave it altogether to follow our own vision.
In today’s modern world, the “herd” is taking new forms – group e-mails, chat websites, MoveOn.org, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and more. Today, numerous groups supporting, promoting, or opposing various worthy and unworthy causes are united and guided by modern technology and social media. Countless products or services are increasingly promoted and sold in the same ways. Networking and word-of-mouth promotion via e-mail, personal websites, social media websites, and cellphone talk and texting is rapidly becoming the new norm.
This new media can create celebrities and marketing successes but also destroy careers and products. All media cuts both ways. The tongue that praises can criticise. The same media that can make an artist or product a bestseller or promote an idea whose time has come can be used to critique, pan, and discredit or destroy people, products, careers, companies, and ideas believed to be false or of an inferior standard. The social media backlash can be severe and unrelenting as the cyber herd turns against what it may have initially promoted, believing they have been ripped off, manipulated, or conned.
Historically, the herd mentality has operated through traditional societal and familial assumptions and expectations, which create very real pressures on individuals to conform and obey. For example, for centuries boys were expected to follow in their father’s career footsteps. So, countless families traced generations of shoemakers, blacksmiths, potters, soldiers, miners, auto-workers, steel- workers, bankers, politicians, and more in their family trees. In the same way, due to these societal assumptions and expectations, families and entire groups of people tended to remain in the same social and economic bracket or class as their forebears.
This still occurs today, though to a lesser degree. Once upon a time such limiting expectations defined what was possible or acceptable for entire cultures, forming the basis of class systems that for centuries posed insurmountable barriers for masses of individuals. Whatever class you were born into determined the limits of your potential and attainment in your culture – end of story! This phenomenon of expectation-based patterns repeated and lived out over many generations by individuals and groups has always been a defining force of human culture. These expectations kept societies functioning with a degree of reliability but also placed crippling limits on what individuals could strive for and attain.
These limiting expectations ingrained in every society are expressed subtly, forcefully, or coercively in people’s opinions, behaviours, and actions. This can be hard to ignore or shrug off – and even harder to defy and overcome. We all encounter them in some form in our own families and social circles. If we accept without question the limiting expectations placed on us by our apparent social or cultural class or status, or even the limiting expectations of our families and peers, we will not rise above them and fulfil our greater and unique potential.
The reality is that almost everyone is capable of performing beyond the limits of any assigned or imposed cultural/social roles or expectations. Individuals simply need the determination, courage, confidence, and vision to go beyond false or arbitrary limits that keep them operating at less than their full potential. They need a more empowering, liberating set of expectations or an expanded context that allows them to draw on the fullness of their human potential to achieve their highest aspirations.
A key theme woven throughout this book is that to become great negotiators we must also strive to become exceptional human beings. To be exceptional human beings we must grow beyond the limiting assumptions and expectations of others, and those which we may have internalised, that would keep us from fulfilling our potential. This entire book has been an exploration of a higher, even an inspired, paradigm of negotiation made up of ethical and spiritual principles, approaches, perspectives, and character traits. If you consistently operate within this paradigm, you will become a great negotiator and an extraordinary human being. You will begin to act with clarity and confidence in the face of apparent obstacles and arbitrary limits that may arise in the course of any negotiation or in life. You will have a positive, even transforming, influence on others that supports but also goes beyond the practical aims of any particular negotiation. This is the highest form of influence.
This expanded perspective and its liberating assumptions constitute an X-factor that inspires us to be, do, dare, and achieve in previously unexpected ways. Great negotiators operating in this expanded perspective draw consistently on their full potential. They aren’t merely locked in tunnel vision like a heat-seeking missile pursuing a final material outcome. They don’t merely see the other party as someone to control, manipulate, enroll, profit from, or defeat. They recognise the other party as a human being with needs, fears, desires, and goals, and engage them from that greater perspective. This makes them more effective and successful negotiators. It also often inspires the other party, helps them to believe in themselves, and gives them courage, confidence, and motivation to draw on their own fuller potential to do what their own limiting assumptions and expectations might have prevented them from doing.
This approach gives you potentially life-changing influence and persuasive power. At this level of negotiating, you are no longer struggling with or competing against the other party. You are not opposing them, nor meeting force with force. You are centered in yourself and adhering to ethical principles and character qualities that create harmony and facilitate progress in almost all situations and interactions. These principles and qualities are now integrated in your character. They are an effortless part of how you relate, negotiate, and do business in the world. Because they consistently produce the best outcomes over time, you are no longer unduly attached to particular outcomes, no longer rocked, shocked, or thrown off balance when any particular negotiation fails to deliver what you sought.
This is the territory where being a great negotiator includes being a genuinely good or even a truly extraordinary human being. It is where getting someone to follow your lead in a negotiation includes helping to free them from expectations that may presently bind and limit them and their decision-making. It is where getting the other party to act in a way that moves a negotiation toward your mutual benefit includes helping them believe in themselves enough to make bold decisions and take risks to get something they may have thought was out of their reach. A good negotiator gets what he or she wants whether or not it serves the best interests of the other party. A great negotiator succeeds while motivating the other party to go beyond their own arbitrary limits to achieve more than they expected. We’ve all heard stories of inspired teachers and leaders making a difference in the lives of others. We may have had the experience of others making a difference in our own lives. But our greatest potential is to become those who inspire and make a difference in the lives of those who cross our path – perhaps in the course of a few words, or in a conversation, or in a long-term business or personal relationship. Having this inspirational influence is the deeper purpose and spiritual core of a truly great negotiator.
At this level, your primary objective in life – to be a productive force and a positive influence – supersedes the practical objectives of any particular negotiation to win, sell, succeed, or make a profit. By operating in a larger context than win/lose, the desire for winning or fear of losing no longer dominates your attention, distorts your perspective, or diminishes your effectiveness. Your relationship to the art of negotiation, and to those with whom you negotiate, moves closer to that of a healer than a wheeler-dealer. The essential tenet of the Hippocratic oath, to “first, do no harm,” becomes your business motto and ethic. Having understood and integrated this perspective, you naturally impart it to others, including those with whom you are negotiating.
This visionary perspective and the positive influence it allows you to exert in the lives of others, makes you a better negotiator. It makes you more conscious and less attached, more intuitive and present, and less self-centered. It allows you to operate more effectively with less effort and get better results for yourself and the other party. You are operating in a new paradigm and are able to draw others into it with you. Once they “buy into” it, it allows them to progressively navigate the minor and major obstacles at the friction level of negotiations and life, and become more effective and successful themselves. You are the co-creator of your life and destiny whether you believe it or not. And you have more influence in the lives of others than you realise. Combining realistic, achievable expectations with step-by-step actions toward your goals generates an incremental process of growth and achievement. Bolstered by success, such expectations become self-fulfilling prophecies that create a whole new set of achievable expectations that lead to even greater successes. Understanding and applying this growth cycle, which begins with positive expectations pursued with practical actions, will empower you in every area of your life. It will make you a great, rather than merely good, negotiator.