Get Out of Your Own Way

The most important strategy when navigating through a tough negotiation is to get out of your own way.

Whether you are designing a plan and budget for next year, buying a new car or hiring a contractor, the dynamic is the same.   Two parties, two perspectives, two sets of needs and wants are on the table.

This is especially true in today’s economy when the person buying wants more for less and the person selling is eager to make the sale but has to, in some way, profit or gain something from the exchange.   These are the times to break precedent, maintain an open mind and listen really hard to what’s said and unsaid (and anticipate the “why” behind every position).

Here are tips to help you succeed despite what may start off seeming like adversarial interests:

  1. When defining the problem you are trying to resolve, pose it as a question that reflects the two parties involved in the negotiation. “What program will successfully meet our collective goals?” or “How can we move forward in a way that respects each of our needs and wants?”
  2. Maintain a collaborative mindset — which means that you need to anticipate not only your own but also the other person’s interests and options.   The best outcome will be one in which both parties feel heard, respected and satisfied.
  3. Resist the knee-jerk reaction to jump immediately from recognizing there’s a problem to rattling off a possible solution.  Stop.  Explore the situation fully.   And…once you come up with an idea, push for three more.  Never stop at your first solution.

We enter into these tough moments with intense emotions, baggage from previous exchanges and an overwhelming sense of “I.”   However, the trick to being successful in these tough moments is remain calm despite the intensity, stay in this moment (not fight previous battles), and focus on the other guy in the room.

As I said…get out of your own way.

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