“Never view obstacles in your path as the enemy. Rather, view any obstacles as detour signs to avoid pitfalls.” – Donald L. Hicks
Negotiations often leave little room for mistakes and stumbles. At a high level, they are often tough, robust, complex and fast-moving. Therefore, it is important to bring your A-Game and to be mindful of what you need to do personally to ensure success.
However, there are many ways to approach these situations consciously. You can ensure that you are being kind to yourself, whilst still engaging with the intensity of the professional negotiation. Here are a few things to avoid when looking to have a successful, and mindful, results-focused meeting.
1. Emotional Overwhelm
This is a common one. Emotions are hard to control, right? Especially if you are conscious that emotions are not to be ignored or bottled. It is OK to feel nervous about a negotiation. It’s OK to feel pressurised, anxious or uneasy. These are normal. The trick is to find ways to temper them so that they do not interfere, and to know what your personal coping mechanisms are. Perhaps a few moments of listening to music will help you. Maybe a cup of tea or a glass of water soothes takes the edge off for you. and of course, there’s our old favourite… taking some time to meditate, focus on the breath, and clear the head.
Another of these pitfalls, especially if your negotiating partner is hard-line and aggressive, is to stumble into the same trap yourself. This helps nobody. Aggression not only serves to veer the situation off into territory unrelated to your subject, but it looks unsavoury on you personally. Try to keep calm, and to bring the conversation down to a slower, more technocratic state, where thoughts can be aired with clarity and professionalism.
3. Don’t Rush
This is a mistake you could make if you are the type of person who doesn’t particularly relish negotiations. But negotiations at work are generally important and a lot can be at stake. This is not something to whip through. It takes thoughtfulness, debate, understanding and pacing to get to a conclusion that suits everyone and is the most efficient solution. This is definitely a marathon situation and not a sprint. You need to prepare yourself to negotiate at length and practice resilience throughout a situation like this.
4. Remember Your Values and Aims
It is easy, with the changing directions and deluge of information involved in a negotiation, to lose track of your intentions and core values. Every response and decision you make should be in reference to you and your company’s values. This will ensure that the journey of the negotiation, at the very least, runs parallel with your goals.
5. Giving Too Much Away
The power of a negotiative argument can be as much about what you do say as what you don’t. There’s a trick I see famous documentary maker Louis Theroux use a lot when interviewing his subjects. He will not respond after the interviewee has answered his question. Instead, he will hold the silence. More often than not, the discomfort will cause the interviewee to fill the silence with more information than they were really planning to give away. This is a good example of how silence, or holding back, can show strength, and how verboseness can be a weakness.
Try and stick to giving only the information you intend to give and don’t be afraid of silence.
6. Under Preparation
Never be caught out because you didn’t prepare enough. This may seem obvious, but it’s one of those pitfalls that people trip up on more often than you’d think. This is especially true if you are negotiating with a party that you are unfamiliar with. Always prepare more than you think you need to, because you never know what is going to be thrown at you. Information and preparation are power.
By Chris Thomson
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