Most if not all negotiations are a combination choreographed dance, manipulation and fear of loss. The latter stems from our own inbred animal instincts which exert a strong influence over negotiations; even those where one side objectively has more leverage than the other.
From knowledge comes strength and while you can’t entirely eliminate fear from negotiations, the zen of knowing that it’s there minimizes its influence.
We spend an inordinate amount of time in service of our fear to our detriment. One of Seth Godin’s recent posts sizes it up nicely:
. . . . Chipmunks, wolves and other wild animals rarely get jealous. The number one emotion among wild animals isn’t vanity or happiness: it’s fear.
Fear is everywhere in the animal kingdom, because fear is a great way to stay alive. Fear is hard-wired into successful species… it doesn’t need to be taught. . . . An entire portion of our brain (the same brain the lizard has) is dedicated to fear. And it can’t wait to spring into action.
If your fear keeps you alive, embrace it. The rest of the time, the best strategy for success is figuring out how to ignore it, befriend it or use it as a compass to find what matters.
Seth’s use of fear as a compass really resonated with me. If you’re acting in the service of your anxiety then you’re probably not going to get the best result.
* Are you filling in awkward silences?
* Are you (pre?)-negotiating against yourself by offering an alternative fallback position before the other side has considered (and possibly accepted or rejected) your proposal?
* Are you being aggressive enough and asking for the Cinderella Deal or are you being too aggressive at the risk of killing the deal?
Here’s the litmus test:
If you’re ignoring your fears and taking a position that can be taken with reason, then chances are you’re being authentic and forthright. Your negotiations will, if not accepted, be perceived from the other side as strong if not tenacious and of earnest good will.
If not, then you’re not.