This is the second part of the previous article about maximizing your negotiating skills.
Take a look at the first part here, to get the background.
Most people see the art of negotiation as a huge battle…and one they must win at all costs — this is a fatal mistake, as I have learned in the earlier part of my business and entrepreneurial career.
Before I give you my final take on the subject, take a look at this excellent article from Neil Patel in Forbes — it’s a little old, but very much in line with my thinking and provides a simple framework that you can use immediately.
I agree with a lot of what Patel talks about, but there is one element I want to add that I think will help you take the heat out of the situation, relax a little (if that’s possible in such a situation), and allow you to spend more time evaluating the emotions of you counterpart on the other side.
Let’s get straight into it!
Stop Trying To Win
Yes, you have read the title correctly…and I’m not losing my mind, so stay with me!
This is something I learned from my martial arts experience (over 40 years) and in Russia when I studied Russian martial arts.
You would think that it is imperative to win in the world of martial arts, which of course is centered on self-defense and the protection of you and your loved ones…which is entirely correct, but it’s how you win, that for me, is far more important.
Learn How To Survive
First, you must learn how to survive — this was what was explained to me when I first got involved with Russian martial arts and it was completely different from anything I had learned before…and totally counterintuitive.
If you don’t try to win, you cannot lose…first learn to survive and then look for opportunities.
This was the heart of the matter and think about two boxers who come out in the first round of a very important fight — one comes out blazing and with the full intent of finishing the fight quickly, but the other comes out with a strong defense to weather the initial storm, waits patiently, hunts opportunities and then exploits those opportunities to become the victor.
If you are a boxing fan, then you’ve seen it many times!
I term the boxing situation “active survival” and that is because when you first think of survival (as I did), especially in some form of physical confrontation, the mind conjures up some image of cowering in fear, simply waiting to see if you can come out of the confrontation alive and intact.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The winning boxer in my analogy has trained hard and is more than prepared for the fight…just as the impatient brawler has, but the difference lies within the strategy.
The survival-oriented boxer has worked out a strategy with his coach and that involves soaking up the initial punches and pressure from his opponent because he has done his homework and is prepared.
He knows that his opponent is taking a chance and will likely make mistakes, which will be exploited.
And even if we look at a similar fight where both boxers come out with the same survival strategy, then it would not be a bad thing — which is more like the situation you have when two elite fighters, or football teams for that matter, meet for a championship.
It has the making of an interesting match!
How To Apply The Active Survival Mentality
Let me first remind you of the term “active survival” and make sure you don’t fall into the trap of forgetting you are there to win in a negotiating scenario if you have read the first part of this article, you will understand that you can find a way for your counterpart to win too.
This is the secret of real and successful negotiating because both parties will be content and contented parties are parties that can do a lot of future business together.
And remember that sometimes, you may need to concede some points, just like a boxer who needs to take some punches, in order to land their own in order to win the fight.
Regulate Your Breathing
You must stay calm, no matter what the situation — that’s what I learned in Russia!
One of the best ways to do this is to take slow and meaningful deep breaths, which you can do while you are waiting to go into the negotiating room and even while you are in the middle of intense negotiations — it has a wonderful calming effect and may also help you to reduce your blood pressure!
Stay Focussed And Aware
You’ve done your homework and prepared well, as I have talked about in the first part, so the worst case, just like the boxing analogy will be that you “hold your own” and give a good account of yourself.
I know you want to win, but you have to take the pressure off yourself first and when you are in active survival mode, you need to remain focused and be able to hunt and see those opportunities.
Weather The Initial Storm
This is where it gets exciting and I will give you a personal example of a situation that I found myself in, some years ago.
I was negotiating a large service agreement for one of my key customers and I had flown into the country in question, a few days before the key meeting and managed to have dinner before the meeting, with the key senior vice president of the division I was presenting to, to win the business.
Over a very nice dinner, we set the scene for the meeting the next morning and it would only come down to the value of what we were to deliver…and the price.
The next day in the meeting, which was attended by other senior executives, the vice president had morphed into some form of unrecognizable character — starting with a bone-crushing handshake with me and an unfamiliar assertiveness in his voice, obviously to impress his colleagues.
I weathered the storm by letting my hand relax, so there was nothing to crush, maintaining my composure and smiling normally as I greeted him.
This certainly fazed him as he proceeded, to no avail, to crush my hand harder and I could see the frustration on his face.
The entire negotiation was dependent on the buy-in from his team and my instinct knew that he wouldn’t overrule them, because you don’t want to undermine the position of the colleagues you’ve had a hand in putting in their relative positions.
Plus, they were a large, internationally listed company.
Once I had diffused my now supercharged vice-president, I could stay aware and focus on the other people who I would need to win over and create my share of the winning part of this deal.
I decided to focus on the history of our business relationship with the other executives and also sold them my vision for the future of the industry, and the problems and challenges that would occur in the near future.
This immediately took the heat out of the situation (created by superman) and allowed everyone to re-focus.
It was the “future challenges” part that caught the attention of a couple of the other executives and especially my opinions as to how we could solve them — this showed that I had not simply tried to deal with the “now” and take my profits, but I was very mindful of what was around the corner.
The conclusion was easy — I set out our requirements for the deal and how it would work, and we negotiated a few price points and concessions from both sides…and the deal was done.
That’s about it — if you keep things simple and lose the winning mentality (overtly), you will not raise the protective barriers of your counterpart and by employing the active survival strategy, you can easily weather any initial storm and find those lucrative opportunities that you probably would have missed.
Anyway, this is the last blog of 2022, so a Happy New year and 2023 to you all.
As I’ve written a ton about business in general, I am going to change the direction of this blog a little, starting in the New Year.
Last modified: December 31, 2022