The following is adapted from Beyond Wins by Mala Subramaniam.
A successful negotiation is not about winning or coming out ahead. It’s a careful examination of the situation to find a solution that serves the needs of both parties intending to build long-term relationships. Accordingly, the best negotiators always enter the room with a positive attitude.
After all, how can you develop a relationship if fears and preconceived negative notions about the other person torment you? How can you achieve a goal if you think you will lose in the negotiation or lose the client? Dreams, hopes, and intentions, not fears, influence the positive outcomes of a negotiation.
In one of my negotiation classes, one team played the role of a website designer, and the other team played the role of Paula, the client. The team playing the role of the website designer went with a positive mindset into negotiations with Paula for redesigning her company’s website. Their new mindset was, “We are the experts, and our client will see the value in our suggestions for her business success.” This mindset will pave the path for success in the relationship, and more alternatives will present themselves with this intention.
When you listen to inspirational speeches, you are more likely to go into negotiations with a positive attitude. After listening to the speech of an inspirational leader, each participant in my class wrote one positive outcome from the negotiation with Paula. The best suggestion for an outcome came from a person new to negotiations, “Paula recommends us to a major client because her income has doubled.” Such an elevated thought raises the level of the negotiation, injects creativity, and helps you steer clear of pettiness.
Before you embark on any negotiation, listen to inspirational talks by great leaders. I am partial to the commencement speech delivered by the late Steve Jobs, past chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Apple Inc., in 2005 for the graduating class at Stanford University. Everyone must have a favorite.
The inspirational talks help cut out the harmful noise in one’s head and any lingering pettiness. It puts you on a higher level of thinking and shifts your attention to those that achieved the impossible. You will gain the courage to combat any fears. If that doesn’t do it for you, consider music, a brisk walk, or anything else that can help you dream big. Why should you deny yourself the dream just because the world says so?
You need to put yourself on a higher plane to get past negative thoughts and pettiness. You are not dealing with buildings, structures, and entities; you are dealing with people, who are not out to get you. Instead, they want to work with you. It’s not about them. It’s about you! All you can do is prepare yourself.
This is an important aspect of Eastern philosophy, which teaches the benefits of looking at the world from inside out. When you perceive yourself as the product of external influences, you spend your time trying in vain to change the surrounding people rather than looking within to see how you can change yourself to be successful in the existing environment.
Often, we forget how important it is to set the mood for business discussions. Hope, dreams, and intention set the mood. Don’t let the fear of someone’s intention dictate your responses. When you feel afraid, ask yourself, how does fear help me? Why would anyone have evil intentions toward me? What would be the outcome if I expected the worst to happen in negotiations? What’s wrong with dreaming big?
A positive attitude will always be more beneficial than a negative one, so when fear strikes, set a better mood. Turn on your favorite motivational talks, and get inspired! Dare to dream. Soon you will live that dream.