Success In Negotiating Has To Do With Your State Of Mind

How you see the world determines what you'll get out of your next negotiation
How you see the world determines what you’ll get out of your next negotiation
Image Credit: J E Theriot

Whenever we start a negotiation, we go into the negotiation with high hopes. We would like to be able to walk away from the discussions after all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques are over with the deal that we are looking for. However, that does not always happen. What is it that makes a negotiation go our way – or not? It turns out that one critical part of any negotiation that plays a big role in determining its outcome is our state of mind.

It’s What The Other Side Thinks That Matters

When I’m working with negotiators who are just starting out, what I’m often faced with is a great deal of nervousness. My students ask me how they should handle a situation where it’s their first time negotiating a deal with someone who has done this 100 times before. They fear that they are not qualified to participate in this negotiation. My advice to them is always the same “if you can imagine yourself doing it, then you can do it”.

What my students don’t realize is that we humans all share a peculiar trait. This trait is that no matter what reality is – what is really going on around us – we will respond to what we perceive. The key, and perhaps obvious, point to be made here is that often our perception of the world around us does not line up with the way that things really are. What this means for you as a negotiator is that the leverage that you can bring to a negotiation will depend greatly on the other side’s perception of your situation.

What matters in a negotiation is not reality, how many times you’ve been involved in a negotiation like this, but rather perception – how many times does the other side think that you’ve done this before? What this means for you and every negotiator out there is that when you first walk into a negotiation, you have to sit down at the table believing that you have leverage. To think anything else at this stage of the game will leave you wide open to manipulation.

The Core Of Any Negotiation

Every negotiation depends on a number of different things. However, at the core of any negotiation lie the same three things: time, information, and power. Time is critical because it determine how fast the negotiation will have to move, information is critical because it will determine what your next step will be and power makes sure that you know what the other side will and will not permit to happen. What we need to understand is that our perception of the other side (and vice versa) can either magnify or minimize these three things based on perception.

The one thing that you cannot allow to happen to you during a negotiation is to permit either self-doubt or a lack of confidence to enter into your mind. Allowing this to happen will put you at a disadvantage during the rest of the negotiations. What’s going to happen is that you are going to end up relying on the kindness of strangers to get anything out of the negotiations.

There have been a series of studies of negotiators that took a look at both how they viewed themselves during a negotiation and how they viewed the other side of the table. What the researchers discovered is that we tend to underrate our own strengths while at the same time overrating the strengths of the people on the other side of the table. The reason that we do this is because we are judging them based on the things that we know that they have accomplished. At the same time we are judging ourselves based on all of the times that fallen short of accomplishing what we set out to do.

What All Of This Means For You

When we enter into our next principled negotiation, we may have hope, dreams, and desires regarding what we’d like to be able to get out of this negotiation. However, what we may quickly discover is that we feel outclassed by the other side. What we need to keep in mind is that what often determines the outcome of a negotiation is our state of mind.

What we need to remember is that people are more influenced by their perception than reality. What this means is that the leverage that you bring to the table during a negotiation is not based on what you know or your experience. Rather it’s based on what the other side thinks that you know or have done. The outcome of any negotiation depends on three things: time, information, and power. The other side’s perception of us can either magnify or diminish how they see these three key factors. We need to make sure that we don’t overrate the other side while underrating our own negotiating talents.

So much of what goes on in a negotiation has to do with perception. How the other side views us and how much leverage they believe that we have will go a long way in determining how they are going to be treating us. Keep this in mind the next time that you start a negotiation and make sure that you have the proper state of mind!

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

Question For You: If you find that you don’t have the proper state of mind at the start of a negotiation, what can you do about it?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’m pretty sure that if there is one thing that we can all agree on, it’s that there never seems to be enough time to get our negotiations done. Sure, every negotiation seems to start out with enough time, but then all of a sudden after all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques have been used and that time is gone, we’re facing deadlines, and yet we still have no deal. Is there any way that we can get time to work for us instead of against us during a negotiation?

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