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Self-Created Mayhem

Brian Buck
240311 Self Created Mayhem
© Scotwork NA

I said it. And there was nothing I could do to take it back. I felt sick to my stomach because I knew what I said was going to make the rest of the negotiation difficult for me to navigate. That’s the price of self-created mayhem.

First, some context regarding why I’m talking about mayhem. Throughout March, to coincide with March Madness, we’ve identified 32 types of situations across four categories that can create negotiation mayhem. You have the opportunity to vote and narrow down our list to the most mayhem-inducing issues you face while negotiating. This week, vote on which Self-Created Mayhem issues cause you the biggest headaches while negotiating. 

Self-created issues are the worst. The most obvious reason being that they hurt because you did it to yourself. I’m sure just saying that has many of you in knots, thinking about times you know you created mayhem for yourself. 

Mistakes and miscues happen. How we react ultimately determines our ability to recover and course-correct.

Before I share with you what happened in the situation I started to describe above, let’s talk about some simple things that you can do when you realize you’ve made a mistake. 

Assess the damage. Sometimes, we’re our own worst critics. While you think you’ve made a monumental mistake and mayhem is about to ensue, it’s prudent to assess the situation. It could be as simple as clarifying yourself or asking the other side where they feel things stand. If you’re really uncertain, you may want to ask someone else to come in and evaluate the situation. Having another person’s perspective can help you see the situation for what it is.

Own it. Last month, we focused on relationships and creating trust while negotiating. As we noted, one of the most productive ways of dealing with a mistake is to own it. As my wife once told me, “The fastest way to get out of the hole you’ve dug is to drop the shovel.” When we own our mistakes, we make amends more quickly and turn things around. Blaming others or deflecting only perpetuates the problem. Own it and move on.

Consider removing yourself. Depending on how severe the mistake you made is, you may have to remove yourself from the negotiation. This becomes particularly evident when self-created mayhem erodes trust with the other side. If the other side no longer trusts you, getting a deal done becomes far more difficult. However, removing yourself from the negotiation may give your team a better chance to get the deal done. This is even more important when things become too emotional or personal.

None of the above guarantees you can completely mitigate self-created mayhem, but it gives you a fighting chance. I know, because I didn’t do any of that with the stomach-turning choice I mentioned at the outset . . .

In college, I had a job as a buyer for a small gaming retailer. One of the things I sourced was dice for role-playing games. These games were gaining popularity, and players wanted cool dice to use. Demand was high, and I had one job: buy dice!

At the time, only one supplier had what we needed. In my naivete, I thought I would butter them up by telling them how much we appreciated them, which came out as “I’m so glad we’re talking because we need dice, and you’re the only ones that have what we need.”

As the words “you’re the only ones” came out of my mouth, I realized how much power I had just given them, which I would never get back. We wound up paying way more than we should’ve, and I was subsequently removed from the relationship. That’s when I learned that it’s OK to tell someone what you want, just not how badly you want it.

Which situations cause you the most Self-Created Mayhem? Vote now.

As we go through the month, we’ll explore the other categories of mayhem. Then be sure to join us for our webinar, where you’ll help select the mayhem-causing situations we discuss. Scotwork will provide expert advice on how to deal with them. (I wish I had this available when I was buying dice!)

We Can Help You Minimize Your Negotiation Mayhem.

Regardless of where it’s coming from—your side, the other side, a power imbalance, or anywhere else—mayhem can destroy deals. Rely on Scotwork experts’ nearly 50 years of real-world experience to help you manage negotiation mayhem or avoid it completely.

Talk to one of our experts today.

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