Negotiators Need To Learn To Trust Their Own Instincts

Negotiators need to trust their own instincts
Negotiators need to trust their own instincts

Image Credit: Jens Aarstein Holm

When I’m working with negotiators who are trying to develop their negotiating skills, I’m often asked what it takes to reach the next level in negotiating. You know, the level where it all seems to come very naturally and easily to the negotiator. My answer is always the same: nobody ever really reaches that level, instead they all just look like things are going that smoothly. However, there is one thing that you can develop that will help you to appear as though you are operating on a higher level in your next negotiation: your instincts.

What Are Negotiating Instincts?

When we go into a negotiation, we are relying on all of the negotiation styles and negotiating techniques that we have developed over time in order to get the deal that we want. However, it turns out that one of the most important tools that we have at our disposal may not be anything that they can teach us in negotiating school. Instead, we need to rely on our instincts to get the deal that we want.

Our instincts both guide and protect us from making the same mistakes that we’ve made in the past. Yes, when we prepare for a negotiation we do have an obligation to take the time to do research and to prepare. However, we also have to realize that it would be a grave mistake to ignore what our instincts are telling us.

We all have instincts when it comes to negotiating. We’ve developed our instincts over a lifetime of interacting with people and situations. We don’t always realize that our instincts are trying to tell us something because they are often subconscious; however, they are based on the experiences that we’ve had. Your instincts are generally a good guide for how you should be handing the situation that you now find yourself in because you’ve had time to refine them and discard any instincts that were not correct.

How Can You Use Your Negotiating Instincts?

Our instincts provide us with an indication of how we should be handling the current situation. When your instincts tell you that you could be heading into trouble, based on your past experiences you’ll know to take an alternative course of action in order to avoid the situation that you don’t want to find yourself in.

When we are in a negotiating situation, what seems to happen a lot of the time is that we are dealing with someone when our instincts start to tell us that we really should not be trusting them. There can be a lot of different reasons why we are feeling this way. It could be the contents of their office, their physical appearance, or perhaps the manner in which they speak. More likely than not, this situation reminds you of another situation that you were in in which you discovered that you could not trust the person that you were dealing with.

What we need to keep in mind is that when our instincts try to tell us something, it may have nothing to do with the people that we are interacting with. Instead, it may have something to do with the deal that you are negotiating about. Your instincts may be trying to tell you that there is something wrong here. You need to understand that your instincts only provide you with a starting point – you need to be cautious and find out some more information about what is going on.

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

In order to be successful in your next principled negotiation you are going to have to, of course, prepare for the negotiation by doing research. However, you are also going to have to become aware of what your instincts are trying to tell you.
Your instincts have been developed over time based on past experiences that you’ve had. They will be taking in all of the available information about the people that you are negotiating with, the circumstances of the negotiation, etc. Your instincts will produce a general feeling that you need to take heed of and listen to.

I’m not sure if it’s evolution or something else, but our instincts are a critical part of who we are. As negotiators we need to learn to listen to what our instincts are trying to tell us. If we can develop this skill, we’ll end up making far fewer mistakes than the other side will.

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

Question For You: If your instincts are telling you that something is wrong, what should your next step be?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I’ve got a difficult request for you. The good news is that if you can find a way to follow my instructions, you’ll become a better negotiator. What I’m going to want you to do is to be yourself in your next negotiation. However, at the same time I’m going to want you to be like a chameleon and blend into the negotiation. Think that you can do both at the same time?

Leave a Comment