I was saddened by this LinkedIn survey that shows Americans don’t believe they are good at negotiating. In fact, out of the eight countries surveyed- Americans were ranked highest in negotiation anxiety! Not good to be 1st on that list.
For some reason, many people think you’re either born with good negotiating skills or you’re not. That’s not the case. Negotiating, like most interpersonal skills, can (and should) be learned.
Although I am very comfortable sitting across from someone to negotiate a deal or discuss a difficult subject now, that hasn’t always been the case. I used to think negotiations were supposed to be one-sided and someone always had to lose. I didn’t know how badly I was limiting my options with such a rigid stance.
That’s the best way to describe the negotiation style I used for a very long time. I’m not really a big sports fan, but I appreciate the fierce level of competition displayed in most games. I’ve been very successful in numerous types of Distributive bargaining negotiations using this one tactic- such as when buying a new car, purchasing a home, or negotiating employee contracts. Sure, there are times when this aggressive style is appropriate. However, now I know it should not always be my primary negotiation style.
I’m amazed at how completely unjustified the confidence I had in my negotiation skills actually was as a young adult.
Process was never a concern during my early negotiations. I believed the substance- the specific terms or final price- was more important than the strategies I used. The positive strategies recommended by Robert Axelrod never entered my mind. Negotiations were nothing more than a Zero Sum activity- so cooperation, collaboration and compromise were all signs of weakness. This approach explains the animosity generated between me and a few of the people with whom I negotiated. I didn’t care about maintaining the relationship, I just wanted to be the victor!
Despite my painfully obvious weaknesses with the negotiation process in the past, I now have a very strong foundation on which I built a range of negotiation tactics and strategies. I have extensive training and practice in reading body language, I honed my communication and interview skills during my radio career and, as a manager, I learned how to adapt to and control stressful situations.
What I learned from hours and hours and hours of negotiation training and practice, is that focusing on controlling the process and adapting to the styles of others gets me much more at the end of the day. Of course I used the basic skills I already had to greatly improve my negotiation abilities. I had to make an effort to reach a level of Conscious Competence.
You have to learn to use both Integrative bargaining and Distributive bargaining strategies effectively. Are you comfortable using multiple strategies when negotiating or are you, like most people, anxious about your negotiation skills? Are you willing to learn how to improve your skills.
Ready to work with me, have questions or want to talk before you make a commitment? Call me at 972-900-6185, email me at coach AT financialconflictcoach DOT com or fill out the Contact Form.