A brand shiny new year, people! Full of god-knows-what and well-I’ll-be-damned!
THIS! This could be the year you do that thing! Or give up the watchacallit!
If you haven’t settled on a resolution yet, I’ve got one for you. It will improve the quality of your business relationships, reduce your stress levels, and maybe even make you more money.
I don’t want to go so far as to say it will fix the thingymabob with your you-know, but it wouldn’t be unheard of.
Ready? Here it is: Learn what your bad habits are when you negotiate.
You don’t have to kill them, you don’t have to suppress them, you don’t have to do 100 exercises a day to combat them, but you do have to know what they are.
See, here’s the thing: no one is good at negotiating all the time. No one.
Everyone has bad habits; things that can distract them or tendencies that make it hard for them to get what they want.
One of the key differences between good negotiators and not-so-good negotiators is that the good ones know their bad habits. They know exactly what those habits look like, what provokes them and what helps when those habits start showing themselves.
But you can’t know what your bad habits are until you start looking for them. So that’s your resolution this year: start looking for your bad habits.
To give you a kick start, here are four bad habits that I think are fairly common, especially among people who negotiate infrequently (or think they do).
Way Too Focused Man
Way Too Focused Man is way too focused on one part of the negotiation deal. He looks to that one small portion of the negotiation to tell him whether or not he has a good deal.
Way Too Focused Man has never understood the phrase “cut off your nose to spite your face” and he sure doesn’t understand what the big deal is about “forests”: it’s just one big tree!
Very rarely are negotiations about one thing. Usually there are a lot of different interests at play. Think of those interests as levers that can create different solutions to a negotiation depending how they’re flipped. If you’re always only flipping one lever over and over again, you’re going to be severely limited in the solutions you can make for yourself.
If you find yourself becoming overly focused on one aspect of the negotiation, step back and see what else you might be able to use to close the deal. Remaining overly focused on one thing can make you miss out on a fantastic deal.
The Timid understand; this deal might not be great, but it’s good enough. The Timid do not want to hurt the relationship or put anyone in an awkward situation. The Timid are fine. Really.
The Timid hate that this client always demands a guaranteed discount and then blows the deadline, EVERY TIME, with corrections and dawdling. But what can The Timid do? The Timid needs the work.
The Timid take good ideas about cooperation and customer service about ten steps too far and do not understand that those last nine steps turned a good idea into a bad one.
Making people live up to their promises and calling them on it when they don’t is important to building a good a relationship. Pushing back on terms that are unreasonable is a great way of letting a client know that you expect to be treated fairly.
People who are timid often justify it by saying they don’t want to lose something by being more aggressive. OK. What are you gaining by being timid?
Overly Emotional Kid
Overly Emotional Kid is convinced he wasn’t chosen on the last job he bid because the executive committee was made up of frustrated artists and bigots. He is upset for days when a client criticizes the work he’s done and usually ends up realizing that it is because the client is an undereducated nimrod.
Overly Emotional Kid gave his client a 50% discount, and covered all material costs, because he felt bad about the color balance on their last job together even though the client never mentioned it and paid Overly Emotional Kid a bonus for coming in under deadline.
Emotions absolutely have a place in business; trust, happiness, anger & curiosity have all helped me at one time or another. But if all you’re working with is emotion, it can throw you out of balance and completely distort your perspective on a situation.
Don’t divorce yourself from your emotions when negotiating, but don’t invite all of them to the party at the same time, either.
Don Quixote knows what he knows. He knows what he knows because he knows it. Someone once tried to tell Don Quixote that he was not exactly right about something, but Don Quixote didn’t listen; Don Quixote charged ahead, full tilt, because Don Quixote knows.
An inability to accept influence, to learn from those around you, is fatal in negotiating. Negotiations are basically information exchanges. If you’ve already decided How It Is before the negotiation begins, you’re not going to be able to benefit from any of the new information you’re offered.
You’ll also hinder yourself by having unreasonable expectations about what is possible. It’s always good to have a measure to judge potential solutions against. But if that measure is entirely made of up of how you think the world should be, all you’re measuring is how right you think you are. And if you’re wrong to begin with, well, you see the problem it creates.
Being set in your convictions and staunchly defending your positions, come what may, might sound strong and powerful. But it’s false strength if you’re approaching problems with a closed mind.
So go forth, my friends, and find your bad habits! Happy New Year!