Every negotiator wants to become better. However, the big question that we all face is how to go about doing this. For some of us, reading books on negotiations or attending negotiations can expose us to new negotiation styles and negotiating techniques. However, it turns out that most of us would benefit the most if we were able to cast off some negotiating misunderstandings that we all seem to be carrying around with us. These “negotiating lies” are baring us from improving our skills.
Lie 1: Great negotiators are born.
Let’s face it – we are all born with varying abilities for almost any skill. I think that we can agree that our social environment and education have a tremendous impact on what we are able to achieve. Those of us who teach people how to negotiate realize that students enter the classroom with different capabilities. They also understand that all students can gain confidence and competence over time. The belief that one is either born a great negotiator or not, can stand in the way of learning. What we need to understand is that the ability to negotiate well is not something that any of us was born with. Instead, great negotiating abilities are learned by everyone.
Lie 2: Experience is a great teacher.
It turns out that the last place that any of us really want to learn something new is during a negotiation. The cost of this kind of learning is far too great. We can end up harming the negotiation that we are involved in and the people who employ us at the same time. Let’s face it – experience is a very expensive way to learn anything. A much better way of becoming a better negotiator is to conduct dry runs before you jump into your next negotiation. Use these negotiation simulations to do your learning. It will be much less expensive.
Lie 3: Good negotiators routinely take risks.
Risk is an everyday part of life. Taking risks is also a part of every negotiation that we will ever participate in. However, all too often negotiators justify risk taking when they’re trying to act tough and hope that the other side will cave. The problem with this approach is that these gambles rarely pay off. The other side is likely to become equally stubborn. The result of all of this risk taking is that you’ll both miss out on smart trades. The rule is that negotiators should take risks only when the benefits appear to outweigh the costs.
Lie 4: Good negotiators rely on their intuition.
I can’t tell you how many negotiators that I’ve talked with attribute their negotiating successes to their superior intuition. The reality is often that they got lucky – no real intuition was involved. I’ll grant that some times your intuition may lead you to propose a novel approach to a negotiation. However, if you place too much trust in your intuition then you may end up making costly mistakes. Negotiators need to remember that the human mind is hard-wired with an array of systematic biases. The right way to go about using your intuition during a negotiation is to test your intuition against objective data, consult independent advisers, and think through the negotiation before taking your place at the table.
What All Of This Means For You
The only way that we will become better negotiators is by learning how to do new things and getting rid of the things that are holding us back. There are a number of different ways that we can learn to do new things, but a far simpler path to becoming better is to discover what we are doing that is holding us back.
The first thing that we need to understand is that great negotiators are made, not born. Yes, we are all born with different skills and talents, but the ability to negotiate well is something that is learned. This means that if we take the time to study the art of negotiation, we’ll become better. Where it is true that we can learn from our experiences, it turns out that learning something during a principled negotiation can be very expensive. Learn what you need before the negotiation starts. Risk is a part of every negotiation. However, the great negotiators know to take risk during a negotiation only occasionally and even then under special circumstances. Finally, intuition can tell us what we need to do. However, we need to be careful to not trust our intuition too much or else we can be lead astray.
The good news is that we can all become better negotiators. However, in order for this to happen we have to first understand that we are being held back by beliefs about negotiating that we all have that are wrong. We need to understand that if we can move beyond these misconceptions, then we can become the negotiators that we’ve always wanted to be.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
Question For You: When do you think that a negotiator should trust their intuition?
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
So a negotiation is a business discussion that occurs between two adults, correct? Well, in a lot of cases this is a correct statement. However, there are times when things can become heated during a negotiation. When one side feels as though they are not getting their way, they start to look for ways that they can convince you to change your mind. One tool that they have available to them besides using different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques is to threaten you. If they decide to do this, how should you react?