Main Street: March 27, 2019

March 28, 2019

Leadership is more of an art than science. It’s a fluid dance of sorts, which involves influence and negotiations to get others to subscribe to the organization’s purpose while embracing their passions.

While Emotional Intelligence (EI) centers on leadership and relationships, an interesting quote came from Claire Danes who said, “Relationships are a constant negotiation and balance.”

From this perspective, an interesting article was written by Margaret Neale and Thomas Lys titled, “How the Secrets of Economics and Psychology Can Help You Negotiate Anything, In Business and Life: Getting More of What You Want.” I would like to highlight Neale’s and Lys’s salient points and then make my comments in parentheses on how to add this to your leadership domain.

Neale said, “The modern framework for negotiation is broken: Most of the prevailing theories see negotiations as battles in which the players act rationally in their own best interests. If you are lucky, this is a battle you might win. But what if you reframed the whole idea, to think of negotiation not as a fight but as a problem-solving exercise? And one in which emotions can play a systematic and powerful role?”

Central to this notion of negotiations, EI comes into play. Understanding how inflamed emotions fuel the fire of discontent, and consequently, negotiations break down as a result. People then offer up more than what they were willing to give in the first place to eliminate the contentious aspects of negotiations to get a quick resolution.

However, “Agreements for the sake of agreeing are not so great unless of course agreement is all you care about,” says Neale. “But then, if that were the case, you wouldn’t need to negotiate. You’d just accept your counterpart’s first offer.”

Negotiation is about finding a solution to your counterpart’s problem that makes you better off than you would have been had you not negotiated.

Usually, in the business world, “wins” are almost always defined by dollars. In Neale and Lyn’s view, what you value in the deal — what you want — can range from the traditional view of dollars to control of your time, a better relationship with your counterpart, or achieving a particular outcome in a meeting.

Below are Neale and Lys offer a five-step road map to negotiating:

1. Assess: (Review the situation and assess is this a starting point where I can negotiate? If so, can I change the outcome in which I am better off? Do I have adequate information to create viable and creative packages to the negotiation process? If you answer no to the above questions, then stop here.)

2. Prepare: (Central to negotiation is the preparation from a strategic advantage. It is not theater, but reasonably based on facts, relevant information, and the ability to discern what is required and needed to fulfill your needs in the negotiation process. The ability to maintain discipline for the intended outcome, rather than the theater of passions, keeps you centered on the relevant issues and the final outcomes negotiated.)

3. Ask: Conventional negotiating wisdom holds that, “whoever makes the first offer loses the negotiation.” Neale asserts, “But that old-school line of thinking ignores “anchoring.”

When you make the first offer — informed by everything you’ve learned in your preparation about what you need and what your counterpart wants — you are anchoring the negotiation closer to where you want it. (This strategy involves being more objective in your approach and directly asking for what you want. There is no wiggle room from where you stand and what you are requesting.)

4. Package: (Prepare and offer an entire package. This eliminates the need for the other party to begin contentious negotiations to “save face.” Follow through with the statement, “How can we craft an outcome that will work for both of us.” This simple statement sets the stage for cooperative negotiation instead of combative and antagonistic tactics.)

5. Adopt a powerful mindset: Expectations are incredibly influential, including your expectations of yourself. Neale suggests that adopting a powerful mindset at the negotiation table is easier and more formulaic than you think. Here are some tips to remember when you are sitting down to begin:

Recall a time when you had power over someone else. How did that feel and what kind of experience did you have?

Recall a time when you felt physically attractive. Research studies indicate that when you feel attractive, it influences your ability to claim value in the negotiation process.

Implement a power pose. Researchers have demonstrated that sitting or standing in an expansive pose versus a constricted one, can influence your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and testosterone (the power hormone) as well as your willingness to take risks.

Consistent with the above, negotiations involve a variety of strategic thinking and tactical implementation. Using the concepts as discussed by Neale and Lys, we can develop proven stratagems to assist in the negotiation process.

In the final analysis, negotiations do not have to be a zero-sum game in which there are winners and losers. Rather, invoking the concepts assess, prepare, ask, package, and adopting a powerful mindset as described by Neale and Lys, we can engage in a “third alternative” a win-win for all parties.