Power Up Your Negotiations

How can you power up your negotiation skills?  Powering up means increasing your ability to get things done, to be creative, and to resolve problems.  I recently read two very different pieces of advice, one for grandparents and one for business leaders.  Both these pieces of advice apply to negotiations; both advise the same thing.

In his blog on management, Tom Terez tells business leaders that they have a choice between two approaches: power over or power with.  Power over emphasizes control, while power with emphasizes creativity.  Here are some contrasts between the two approaches to leadership: Power over managers believe the world is a generally hostile place. Power with managers believe the world is generally friendly.  Power over managers rely on rules and competition.  Power with managers rely on principles and co-creation.  Power over managers fix blame and dwell on weakness, while power with managers try to fix the process and leverage strengths.  Power over managers work with fear, but power with managers work with trust.  There is more.  You can read Tom Terez’s white paper on his webpage.

In their book entitled Grandparenting with Love & Logic, Fay and Cline tell us that there are three kinds of grandparents: Helicopters, drill sergeants, and consultants. Helicopter grandparents hover and rotate their lives around their children and grandchildren.  Drill sergeants give orders and remind about failings.  Consultants listen and provide choices.  You might say that consultant grandparents co-create.

The Terez and Fay and Cline recommendations sound very similar.  Both recommend learning by experience, group decision-making, empathy, and trust.  These are good models for negotiation too.  Fay and Cline recommend that people become “expert choice-givers.”  This is an essential skill in negotiation and by slightly rephrasing their suggestions, we can apply the lesson to powering up negotiation skills:

1. Create situations in which you and your opponents must think over options.

2. Provide opportunities for you and your opponents to make mistakes and learn by consequences.  These opportunities might be in the form of pilot programs or experiments.

3. Remind yourself and help others to avoid control battles.

4. Show your opponent that you trust their thinking and empathize with their perspective.

As Terez reminds us, it is easiest to co-create in a situation where “Everyone teaches, everyone learns.”

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