Why Fears And Wishes Are Not A Negotiator’s Friend

Fear has no place at the negotiating table
Fear has no place at the negotiating table

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When you know that you are going to be entering into a negotiating situation, what’s the one thing that you don’t want to bring to the table with you? It has nothing to do with the negotiation styles or negotiating techniques that will be used during the negotiations. I can think of several things, however, the most important thing that you don’t want to bring is, of course, fear.

The Danger Of Fear And Wishes

One of the jobs that I always wanted to have was to be a Formula 1 race car driver. I thought that it would be such a rush to tear around a racetrack at high speeds. In order to do that successfully, you need to have the ability to completely focus on your driving task – even a moment’s inattention can cause you to lose control and (perhaps fatally) wreck your car.

As negotiators we need to be able to have the same level of focus that a Formula 1 race car driver has. We can’t allow anything to distract us from the negotiation that is before us. If we allow fear (or wishes) to creep in to our thoughts while we are negotiating, then we’ll start to worry that things might go wrong during the negotiation.

If this happens, then our appearance to the other side may change. We may start to come across as being overly eager or even weak. When this happens, the other side will adjust how they deal with you. Quickly you’ll discover that the negotiation is starting to slip away from you.

How To Uninvite Fear From Your Next Negotiation

Fear can get itself invited to your next negotiation not by you, but rather by the people that you work for. They may impose a deadline on you by which you need to have the negotiation wrapped up by. When this happens, you’ll start to constantly worry about whether or not you’ll be able to do a deal in time.

As negotiators we need to be highly aware of the fact that when a restriction has been placed on us, it can cause fear to join us at the negotiation table. We may not even be aware of this at first, but very quickly it’s going to raise its ugly head. When we discover that fear has joined us, we need to take steps to make it go away.

The simplest way to get rid of the fear that our management may have caused to show up at the negotiating table is to have a talk with them. What we need to do is to explore with them why they have imposed deadlines and restrictions on us. We also have to get a good understanding of what would happen if we were not able to meet those deadlines – would it really be all that bad of a thing?

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiators need to be able to keep their focus on the events that are happening at the negotiating table. What this means is that we can’t be distracted by anything that might take our attention away from what is going on. The presence of either fear or wishes can easily distract us.

The reason that fear and wishes can cause us to lose our focus on the negotiating events that are happening before us is because we can’t possibly think about two things at the same time. If our management has placed restrictions on us, such as a due date for the negotiations to be completed by, then we’ll be working under the fear that we’re not going to be able to meet that deadline.

In order to be able to reach the best deal possible with the other side of the table, we need to banish fear from our side of the table. In order to do this, you may have to have discussions with your internal team and management before the principled negotiation even starts. Make sure that there are no restrictions being placed on you that will allow fear to enter into your negotiations. Fear has no place on your side of the negotiating table!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: If as you are negotiating, you discover that fear is influencing how you negotiate, what should you do?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

The trick to doing well at your next negotiation is to know who knows what no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. Or another way of saying that is you want to fully understand what the other side of the table does not know. Hmm, this is all getting rather confusing. How about if we just say that when you enter into your next negotiation, you don’t want to be making any assumptions about what you think that the other side of the table knows.