April 19, 2016

Negotiating from Within

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Have you ever had a recurring impasse in your professional or personal relationships?  Take, for example, the opposing counsel who screams at you in the middle of a settlement conference. Or how about the colleague who gets under your skin until you just can’t take it anymore and snap at him? At times like these, we often lack the ability to move the conversation -- and therefore the negotiation -- in a more productive direction.

Our initial impulse is to dwell on how difficult the other person is (and that person may, indeed, be a challenge).  But doing so will only leave us trapped in the current dead-end situation. This is when we need to look within and have a negotiation with ourselves, before we resume a negotiation with the other person.

In Erica Fox's fascinating book, Winning from Within, Fox explains how to overcome the recurring pitfalls in our negotiations by first becoming aware of our own internal influences -- or as she calls them, "internal negotiators."  According to Fox, there are essentially four types of internal negotiators:  Warrior, Thinker, Lover and Dreamer.  She draws upon the corporate structure to describe them:  Dreamer as CEO, Thinker as CFO, Lover as VP of HR and Warrior as COO.

Big Four Negotiators
Warrior – Takes action and reaches goals
Thinker – Analyzes information and evaluates risk
Lover – Manages relationships, feels emotions
Dreamer – Provides a vision, gives direction

If we rely predominately on one of these Big Four Negotiators to the exclusion of others, according to Fox, we will experience a performance gap.  Put another way, if any of the Big Four are wildly inflated or deflated, we will have sub-optimal negotiations.

The goal for optimal performance in any negotiation is to balance out these “Big Four” Negotiators. To do so, we must gain awareness of which ones are dominating or lacking in our lives. This requires us to pay close attention to our inner thoughts and reactions and to break the cycle of our habitual patterns that no longer serve us.  Once we become aware, we are able to speak and respond more effectively to the situation at hand.

In short, the more we become aware of our internal negotiators, the better able we are in discerning when it’s appropriate to deflate or inflate them.  This insight can be applied to the complex business negotiation as well as the casual discussion with a colleague.   The result: increased opportunities for optimal negotiations and improved relationships.

Filed Under: Negotiation

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