The Key To Becoming A Better Negotiator Is Feedback

Understanding how to give and receive feedback makes you a better negotiator
Understanding how to give and receive feedback makes you a better negotiator
Image Credit: Daniel Bachhuber

All negotiators would like to become better. The challenge that we are all facing is that we don’t know how to go about doing this. Sure, we can go to courses, we can talk with other negotiators, and we can collect statistics on how our negotiations go. However, if we really want to become better negotiators what do we need to be doing? Interestingly enough, the answer may be simpler than any of us realized. What negotiators need to do is to get good at giving and getting feedback.

Why Do We Need Feedback?

Every negotiator wants to know about what helps people learn and what gets in their way. While we spend countless dollars and too many hours each year asking others to teach us how to give feedback, perhaps we’ve got it backward. What we need to be doing is educating receivers – both in our workplace and in our personal relationships. We need to understand the profound challenge of being on the receiving end of feedback, and our conflicting desires – both to grow and improve vs. finding ways to be accepted as we are.

One of the problems that we have as negotiators is that when feedback comes up as a topic, negotiators instantly think of the feedback they have for other people, not the feedback others have for them. When we encounter people who know about receiving feedback, our first response is always “Oh, that’s so great. I know someone who needs that kind of help.” What we need to understand is that this is the kind of help that we all need.

Negotiators need to be taught how to receive feedback. We need help in determining whether the feedback is off base versus just poorly delivered? In order to solve this problem, we need to start listening to people when they complain about their feedback. What we’re going to discover is that it will seem like everyone is very preoccupied with the who-when-where-why-how of what is wrong with the feedback. Despite all of this, there may still be something we need to hear. Remember that as emotional beings, we get so obsessed with the negative aspects of the feedback that we are hearing that we tend to ignore what might be good about it.

How To Use Feedback

I think that we all need to acknowledge that when it comes to giving and receiving feedback, these can be difficult conversations to have. What we need to discover is the root cause of this conundrum. We need to realize that we’re conflicted about feedback because of two core human needs. One of these needs is to grow and improve. This is the key to achieving happiness and satisfaction. However, at the same time, the second need is to be accepted, respected, and loved just as we are. Unfortunately, a lot of the most valuable learning in life can come from our most painful experiences. We need to realize that in most cases, these experiences are very hard to appreciate at the time. We only appreciate them or understand what they had to teach us, later on.

For negotiators who want to become better at giving feedback we need to become a better feedback receiver. If we can be a better feedback receiver, we become a better role model for what is valued in our organization. Plus, when we understand what’s hard about receiving feedback, we become a better giver of feedback. For negotiators who want to become better feedback receivers we need to understand the challenges of the key triggers: Me, We and See. Each of these triggers are important.

  • ME: We are all wired differently – some people can feel very uncomfortable with positive feedback, others may be particularly sensitive about negative feedback. There are very large variations on how we swing, both positive and negative, and how long it can take us to recover. Understand that this is completely normal.
  • WE: Realize that your reactions to the person who is giving you the feedback will color your reaction and may make you dismiss the feedback entirely. The lesson here for you is that while you may have issues with the “who,” don’t let it pre-disqualify the “what” of the feedback.
  • SEE: All of us have blind spots. The challenge of understanding the feedback we get is compounded by the fact that feedback often comes with very vague labels – for example, “try to be more proactive.” We get so upset in the moment that often we don’t actually pause to understand: 1) Where is this coming from? What’s the data behind it? 2) Where is it going? What is it that you are asking me to do differently? We assume that we understand the feedback that we are getting, when in fact it takes a lot more effort and skill to unpack what’s under a vague label.

What All Of This Means For You

Negotiators need to learn that we can always glean something useful from feedback. Getting good at receiving feedback doesn’t always mean that you have to take it. Rather, what it means is that you need to fully understand it before you decide what to do with it. The good news is that receiving feedback is a skill that can give you more control over your negotiating anxiety and enable you to accelerate your learning.

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

Question For You: Who do you would be the best person to give you more feedback?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

One of the most important things that any negotiator brings to their next negotiation is their particular leadership style. It can be autocratic, it can be decisive, etc. The big question that we all have to be asking ourselves before we enter into our next negotiation is just exactly what style of leadership is going to be required in order to have the best chance of being able to reach a deal with the other side?