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Three Things to do in 2017

Alan Smith

I was thinking, as one is tended to do, over the January period, of any goals I could do with having as we waltz into 2017. Eat well, exercise regularly, spend more time on my relationships are my clear life goals. Frankly ones that we all probably share.

But from a negotiation perspective, which after all is what I teach and consult in for a living, what three things would help people less focused on this area than I, make a distinct and significant improvement in their negotiation outcomes.

Three immediately spring to mind. Why three? Well why not. There are literally hundreds of things you can do, but goals tend to be more effective when they are broken down into bite sized chunks. If the overall goal is to negotiate more effectively here are three things you can do right now!

  1. Prepare more. Most of us spend lots of time thinking about building a compelling sales deck or an effective purchasing model. We spend much less time on thinking through how we will conduct the actual negotiation which is after all where lots of the value of any agreed deal is won or lost. In preparation be very clear with yourself about the objectives you are setting, the priorities within those objectives and any areas of flexibility. Seems to me that most of the flack that Teresa May the British Prime Minister is getting right now surrounds this area. Whilst I can agree with her that her strategy for Brexit may be best kept behind closed doors, her broad objectives should be clear. I have no issue in telling people what I want to achieve in a negotiation.
  2. Be nosy. Even for those people well versed and familiar with objective setting it is well worth jumping into the other party’s shoes to identify, or at least try to see things from their side. Negotiations that only focus on my objectives are often bound for failure. Unless you literally have all the power, and don’t give a fig for the other side, you are going to have to make some degree of compromise. Imagine wanting to go on holiday with your partner and just booking something without talking it through, asking if they can go when you want to and to the place you would like doing your favorite pastime. Even with someone you know as well as that, you might come a cropper. The best outcomes work for both sides. So ask lots of questions to try to understand where they will be coming from and how they see success.
  3. Go for a walk. There is lots of evidence that creative thinking happens when we are disengaged. Trouble is that happens less and less. Believe it or not the iPhone was 10 years old this week, and since then, and in my view we have been more or less switched on. The French (God bless them) have recognized that work has its place and now forbid by law, bosses from contacting their employees outside office hours. It will not stop them engaging in social media though. From a biological evolutionary state we are still pretty much stone age creatures, most of the evolution we now see is cultural. So your body still needs to be active. 10,000 steps a day is about 5 miles. Our recent ancestors would do at least double that in foraging and hunting and our bodies have been biologically designed for that purpose. Going for a walk is therefore essential physically, but also mentally. It literally gets your blood pumping which is great for the brain, but it also allows you to switch off from the computer and iPhone and let your creative juices flow. Really good negotiators recognize that developing creative solutions and finding new ways of building value help them to work past gates that block many negotiations.

So overall if you are better prepared, more engaged and fitter 2017 should be a good one.

Good luck and good negotiating

Alan Smith



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