Do you remember being trained in “Negotiation Skills”? It was the course that everyone left until last on their list because it had such a negative image around it.

It was such a process.
• Look for the win/win
• Think about your goals
• Keep hold of the power during the negotiation

Like a game of chess, negotiators had to navigate a battlefield. No wonder negotiation skills training was never swamped with attendees.

If only we had been taught about what goes on in the brain during a negotiation and how it causes people to react. We might have better understood what we were doing and why it worked.
We now know that anything which is perceived as a threat alters the way the brain functions.

Negotiations can sometimes be seen as a threatening situation so immediately at least one of the negotiators has his fight or flight sensors activated. His brain is filling with stress hormones which affect the way he thinks, and the judgements he makes. That doesn’t promise a good outcome.

As leader it’s up to you to create an environment which removes or at least limits the amount of threat the other negotiator feels. You know you will get the best result by working together rather than fighting it out.

We were all taught about the power of body language actions but most of us did not understand why they worked.

The way you present yourself during the negotiation will trigger either a threat or a reward response. Your body language speaks before you do, so your non-verbal communication is important. When we see someone looking at us with a frown or with crossed arms, our brains are triggered just as surely as if we’d seen a clenched fist.

By keeping your arms open, your body relaxed and your voice even you can create an environment which is non-threatening. Straight away you have helped open the other person’s brain to real negotiation. Removing the “threat” helps them to think clearly and actually hear what you have to say. It limits the release of stress hormones and takes away all the buzz noise cluttering up their logical minds.

We were taught to retain the power during a negotiation. Perhaps our best power is the ability to produce a threat or reward response in the people we are negotiating with. Perhaps that’s how we ultimately find the win/win.

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