Successful Negotiating Is All About Believing

If you want to be successful in a negotiation, then you've got to believe
If you want to be successful in a negotiation, then you’ve got to believe
Image Credit: Jack Lyons

As we prepare for our next negotiation, we go through a mental checklist of all of the things that we need to do. We make sure that we know who we’ll be negotiating with, we make sure that we understand the issues that will be discussed and we know which ones are the most important to our side. We may have even done some background checking on the people on the other side of the table. However, sometimes we forget to do the most important thing of all. This is to stop for a moment, and double check to make sure that we believe in what we are doing.

Why Believing Is So Important

So I’ve got a great question to start things off with. I’m hoping that you know the answer to this question because it is a big question. Who is in charge of your life? I mean, who is really running the show for you? When we were growing up we might have said that it was our parents or our teachers. However, these days I’m hoping that we’d all agree that we are in charge of our lives. This is a basic human need. If you want to get all fancy about it, understanding that you are in charge is a part of your psychological and physical well-being.

What all of this means is that during a negotiation, what we believe is a very, very important thing. Negotiations have a lot to do with power. Who has it, who doesn’t have it, and who knows how to use the power that they do have. What this means for us is that if we need believe that we are not powerless during a negotiation and that we can obtain desirable goals and influence the behavior of the other side. This kind of belief that we can do things may be as important as our actual ability to do such things.

There have been a lot of studies about just exactly how important belief is in negotiating. What these studies have shown is that those of us who believe that we have control over the things that happen to us are more effectively able to deal with the setbacks and stress that come with negotiating in the real world. Negotiators who don’t believe that they control their world are the ones who can become easily frustrated, they may become depressed during the course of a negotiation and all of this may manifest itself as physical illness.

What Believing Helps Us To Overcome

Believing is a critical skill that every negotiator needs to have. The one thing that we want to avoid is a feeling of powerlessness. In our normal lives outside of negotiating there can be many things that can cause to feel that our lives have gotten out of control When things like this happen to us, we need to learn how to react in a way that will allow us to get control over our lives back.

Negotiators who don’t believe that they are in control of their lives will demonstrate this in a number of different ways. One such way is the simple fact that they will be unwilling or unable to initiate initiatives during the negotiation. They are unwilling to take risks and they work to cover up their mistakes. When bad things happen, they’ll falsify feedback and they will become adapt at taking action to protect themselves from any sort of blame.

In all honesty, you believing that you have power during a negotiation is critical to your ability to be effective during the negotiation and to maintaining your mental health. There are longer term benefits from believing in yourself. Knowing that you can do things allows you to have a better understanding of what your ambitions are and by knowing this you will have a better understanding of who is important in your life. What we all need to remember is that “Power begins with me…”

What All Of This Means For You

It turns out that no matter what anyone else thinks about you, you need to believe in yourself if you want to be a good negotiator. We all need to have a sense that we are the ones who are in charge of our lives. This can have a big impact on our psychological and physical well-being.

This all comes down to our belief that we are not powerless during a principled negotiation. Our belief that we can have an impact on the other side of the table is just as important as our ability to actually do things. Every negotiation has setbacks and can cause stress; if we believe in ourselves we’ll be able to deal these events as they come. If we don’t believe in ourselves, then we’ll find ourselves struggling to deal with the negotiation as it unfolds. Believing in ourselves allows us to understand who we are and where we want to go.

As negotiators, we can spend a lot of time studying different negotiation styles and negotiating techniques; however, it turns out that’s what is really important is that we take the time to believe in ourselves. If we think that we can do it, then the negotiation is going to turn out successfully for us!

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

Question For You: If you start to doubt yourself during a negotiation, what should you do to get your belief in yourself back?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

What do you need to do before a negotiation formally starts? Well, there are actually a number of different things that you should be doing, but one of the most important is to take a careful inventory of all of the “power assets” that will be potentially available to both sides during the negotiation. The reason for doing this is because it will help to increase your confidence going into the negotiation and it will also permit you to adjust both the preferences and the expectations of the other side of the table no matter what negotiation styles or negotiating techniques are being used. Power is always there during a negotiation, you just need to be able to determine where it is going to be coming from.