Great Negotiators Aren’t Afraid To Stumble On The Way To The Top

by drjim on November 11, 2011

Great negotiators always slip up before they become great

Great negotiators always slip up before they become great

A quick question for you: are you afraid to fail? Would you be willing to take on responsibility for a negotiation that might not be a success? I’m willing to bet that a lot of us would say “no” – our company’s negotiators who are perfect are rewarded while negotiators who fail are kicked to the curb. However, I’m going to tell you that you’re wrong – get ready to fail if you want to succeed.

How To Kill Your Negotiation Career

In your job right now, what would happen to you if you failed? That end-of-year review would be a tough one to sit through, right? Let’s face it, failure is not something that is rewarded in our workplace and in fact it’s something that we all actively avoid if we possibly can.

However, maybe we’re just setting ourselves up for a much bigger career disaster. Can we all admit that the world as we know it is changing? Can you remember watching old-time movies where the hero would get a job at a company and then spend his or her entire career working there? We all know that those days are long gone.

Something else is changing also: our jobs. The job that you had when you started working may already be gone. The negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that you used to use probably don’t work as well anymore. A negotiation definition that was in use just 5 years ago probably wouldn’t describe what you do today. This all means that you are going to have to change and change involves risk and along with risk comes the very real possibility that you are going to fail.

How To Become A Success By Failing

Well, that failing stuff doesn’t sound like it’s going to be any fun. But wait, has anyone else ever failed? Turns out that yes, in fact most successful people can look at their past and point to failures that helped them to get to where they are now.

The poster child for this kind of “good failure” would be Howard Schultz – the guy who founded the Starbucks chain of coffee shops. We all know and love the Starbucks store today, but when Howard first started it he really blew it. There were no chairs, he played lots of opera music, and his menu was in Italian. Clearly he realized that he had failed, quickly adjusted, and went on to become a big success.

You can do the same. You need to learn to make lots of small bets during your negotiations. Some of these bets will pay off, and some won’t. It’s through what you learn from the failures that you’ll be able to make tiny changes to your approach to negotiating and try, try again.

If we keep doing things the same way that we’ve always been doing them, then we will eventually stagnate and then we’ll go into decline. However, if you have the courage to start to fail and to learn from those failures, then the future contains limitless possibilities for both you and your career.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiators who are afraid to fail will never become a true success. Oh sure, they may do ok for a few years, but when things get really rough, they’ll wash out.

If you are willing to adjust how you view failure, your negotiating career can take off. However, if you can start to look at failures as being simply being learning experiences that are not be feared, but they are to be used to become a better negotiators then you’ll be able to grow and become better at what you do.

No, you can’t be an idiot about this and do silly things that cause your negotiations to fail – you still need to practice principled negotiation, but if you try your hardest and your negotiation still fails than you will have learned what part of your negotiation process doesn’t work. The big deal is that it takes courage for you to be able to do this.

Negotiators who are a success have to had failures in their past. It’s from the forge of failure that the steel of success is formed. Learn how to make small bets so that you can learn what works and what doesn’t. Learn from both your failures and your negotiated deals. Do this well and you’ll become a successful negotiator.

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to get your management to become comfortable with failures as a sign of success?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

A negotiation is very much like a dance, you make a move and then your move forces the other side to make a move. Once they’ve done that, then their actions force you to take some corresponding action and so on. There is a logic to all of this and where things get interesting is when we start to try to figure out if the role that logic plays is working for us or against us…

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