Will Smith Teaches Negotiations Lessons

From the Mediation Matters Blog of Steve Mehta.

I just recently watched the movie Hancock with my son who has been asking me to watch movies with him.  Well since I like movies and Will Smith, I couldn’t think of anything better to do than to watch Hancock with him.  Now after several years of doing seminars that provide negotiation lessons from the movies, I am always watching for life’s lessorns from the movies.  After watching the movie, though, several thoughts came to mind about how Hancock teaches us lessons that we can all take into life and negotiations.

First, for those of you that don’t know, Hancock —  played by Will Smith – is originally a Superhero with an image problem.  He meets up with a Public relations person who helps him with his image.

The following is one negotiation lesson learned from Hancock.  I will provide additional thoughts and tips from the movie on different posts.

Good deeds, concessions, or actions will go unnoticed unless you have the right bedside manner

Here is a clip of a good deed done by Hancock.

As you saw from the clip, Hancock helped to save a whale from dying but the people hated him for it.  The movie showed many scenes where normally people should be thankful; but instead they are booing him.  In fact, many people even suedHancock for his  actions in saving the city.

Part of the reason, as explained further in the movie is that Hancock is an A$%%^.  His friend explains to him that he needs to change his bedside manner when interacting with people.  He was advised to thank people for their actions; be polite; get permission to do things and many more.

Here is a clip of Hancock as a changed man.

In negotiations the same is true.  You may make a concession or perform some deed that should – in your mind – allow the other person or side to recognize that you are acting in good faith.  But instead the other person mistakes your good intention for some negative or hostile act.  Sometimes in negotiations the other person actually mistakes your action for the exact opposite or believes that your action is only done for a machievillian purpose.

To help avoid these miscommunications, there are several things that you can do:

Make sure to communicate your intent.  In the movie, when Hancock is saving the female police officer, he now makes his intentions known.

Second, coordinate your actions with others – either on your team or the other side.  Letting them know what you are doing is helpful in making sure that the other side does not misperceive your action.

Third, treat others as you would want to be treated.  Simply using polite movements, gestures and statements can immensely help in preventing people from misperceiving your intentions in the first place.

There is an additional discussion of these issues and others in my new book, 112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation.

                        author

Steve Mehta

Steven G. Mehta is an attorney and mediator providing unique mediation services in a variety of types of civil litigation. His ability to understand the human process and complex emotional issues involved in legal negotiations enables him to effectively assist the parties in obtaining the best possible results during mediation.… MORE >

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