Leadership is Negotiation

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How To Negotiate

There are many times in our professional and personal lives where we need to find a way forward when two or more parties disagree.

There are three possible outcomes - which, thanks to the brilliant methodology by Stephen Covey we are all pretty much aware of nowadays. But! They deserve regular re-examination and checking because, in my experience, it can be rare to find leaders actually behaving for the best, win-win solution:

Loose- Loose:

In this situation both parties are left feeling that they have lost out, they are resentful, feel they have not been listened too and future relationships are likely to be damaged. 

This result is most likely when both sides are determined they are right, they do not listen to the other's point of view and are unable to understand the other party's reality.

Win – Loose:

Forgive me for stating the obvious but if one party is winning at the expense of the other there is likely to be bad feeling on the part of the looser. Whilst there may be some transactions where this approach is felt to be appropriate you must remember that if you are likely to have a long term ongoing relationship with the other party a short term win may cost you dearly over time.

Win – Win:

The ideal solution when both parties feel they have come out of the negotiation as a winner. It is not “my way” or “your way” but “our way”. It is true synergy built on mutual respect and benefit for both parties. It requires commitment not to give up until a better way has been found. It will exercise your creative energy but the rewards are great. The bonus of win-win negotiations are that integrity remains intact and trust within relationships is enhanced through greater understanding.

So how can you create a win-win situation?

Your priority must be to find a third way – not yours or mine but ours. “What alternative can we create together which will serve both our purposes?” 

This may come as a surprise to the other party; they may be suspicious of your motives. Explain that if one wins the other looses, ask how much better would it be if you can find a way forward – the third solution where you both win together.

Come to the negotiation table with a mind open to the fact that their reality may be different from yours. Just think how different are the witness statements for the same event, or how family members remember family occasions.

In order to find the third way, you need to understand their map of the world.

Agree to each listen to the other. To hear the whole thing before interrupting

  • This will only be possible if you both truly listen to the other party
  • Listen actively and with empathy – be patient don’t interrupt
  • Don’t be afraid of silence
  • Check your understanding of their position by summarizing and reframing
  • If you are not clear – listen again
  • Ask questions to clarify their reality, perception is so personal
  • Ensure the tone of voice used is without challenge
  • Use open positive body language
  • Leave your ego out of the negotiation

Be aware that one of the two most common reasons for communication break down is as a result of semantics – how people define words. They use the same word but have a vastly different understanding of it. Think about the word love, what does it mean in real terms and how is it manifest within a relationship? Ask ten people and you will get ten very different answers. Remember that it is the underlying meaning of the words which are important rather than the words themselves. 

The second reason for communication breakdown is that of perception. Perception is coloured by our experiences and – how we interpret the world, data and everyday life. For example, the same statistics can be used in many ways; someone who has been bitten by a dog may believe that all dogs are vicious.

Once there is a mutual understanding of the words and the perception it clears the way for synergy to take place.

It is often useful to think about the widest objective - the biggest picture that you can both agree on things at this broader level. You may not agree on how it is to be achieved but both want World peace as the outcome. Once you have agreed on the required goal at the higher level you can then find a way to achieve it which works for both parties.

Maybe you need *me* to help you improve your negotiation?

If you need any further assistance with figuring out how to negotiate a real win-win outcome, or help with becoming an Enlightened Leader, then there are lots of free resources and content, plus a fully CPD Accredited training programme that may just be perfect for you. Just head over to my website HERE.

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