Building and exercising your negotiation skills is much like building and exercising your body. After lots of exercises and working out you think you are in shape.
Then an occasion arises that forces you to start using those “lesser-used” muscles and...Whoa! Where’s the deep heating rub?
How can an Olympic weight lifter possibly race with a sprinter? How does the sprinter compete in bench pressing?
They’re both athletes, they both train hard and they both develop their bodies. Yet they seem to have little in common.
So it is with negotiations. We can’t be negotiating (or arguing) in a different world from the other party if we expect to get anywhere. We need to find commonality, starting from a position of at least understanding each other.
We don’t have to agree, but we must still appreciate the perspective of others if we hope to influence them to thinking more our way.
So the first dispute resolution muscles we have to work on are those skills that keep us focused.
We need to do our homework in advance. That might mean doing a bit of research - or it may be as simple as anticipating why someone is reacting a certain way. Others will only listen to us if we listen to them.
We need to react intelligently to their positions or concerns, even if we violently disagree.
That’s a lot harder than we realize. Can you sense the pending ache of those unused muscles that are about to get a workout?
Focus and preparation are the muscles that will give us the perspective and control we need right from the starting gate. More on preparing for negotiating next week.