What is it about “negotiation” that sends so many people running for cover, eager to avoid it altogether, while others jump in, guns-a-blazing, eager to win at all costs? If you have experienced negotiation as a battle, game or competition to be won or lost, you might run away, or jump right in, depending on your desire for, or past experience with, competition. You might even be thinking, “well, I don’t really negotiate”.
Negotiation is an essential life skill.
We all negotiate, in one form or another, just about every day of our lives, at work and at home – we buy and sell things, negotiate rental agreements, hire renovators, accept job offers and promotions, determine responsibilities on work teams, and in our families.
Effective negotiation involves awareness – of our ability to influence others and to be influenced. If we are unaware that we are in negotiation, we miss opportunities to influence, and we may have been influenced, persuaded, or changed without our knowledge. Does that feel like success? Perhaps for someone else!
Negotiating with integrity involves a heightened awareness of HOW we choose to influence, and the impact of the results. Do we want to deal with our differences in a way that is holistic and least damaging, or to emerge triumphant, with the spoils of our victory strewn on the ground behind us?
Negotiating with integrity is a way of life.
Some of us might know integrity only when it is lacking – that niggling feeling that eats away at our insides, until we do something about it, or simply bury it. If we are more conscious of integrity in our lives, we might notice that it is two things:
- a personal inner sense of “wholeness”; and
- consistent honesty or “uprightness” of character.
You might experience your integrity as a sense of “being clear”, and “being clean”. Being clear as to what makes you “whole”, what matters to you. Being clean as to the impact you leave behind, both in your own life and others’.
This is a primer on how we can begin to integrate our whole selves, our values and integrity, in our negotiations, whatever our skill level.
HOW you negotiate is just as or more important than WHAT you negotiate.
In his book Integrity: The Courage To Meet The Demands Of Reality, Henry Cloud identifies the two trails of the wake as “tasks” (what you accomplish) and “relationships” (how you deal with people). Both trails of a wake are important to a smooth ride on the water. And both are affected by integrity.
Unskilled negotiators focus almost exclusively on the “task”, or the WHAT of their negotiation, particularly money, and neglect to consider and prepare the HOW – how they will negotiate for their desired outcomes.
The drag is, if we only prepare the task side, our boat may drive around in circles! We need both sides of the boat ready, and in working order, to reach our destination. We need to pay attention to both tasks and relationships in our negotiations.
Negotiation IS a Relationship.
Negotiation always takes place in relationship. Even a one-time negotiation is still a relationship – someone else is participating.
People do not want to be a “task”, one of the many things you have to “do”. The earlier you focus on the relationship, the better for your negotiation: in preparing to negotiate, you can imagine what will be important to the other person. What needs or values might have to be satisfied in order to reach agreement? How will she prefer to negotiate? How can you best communicate with her?
Negotiating successfully to outcomes that satisfy you, and are congruent with your values and integrity, is more likely when the other party is also satisfied. Building a trusting relationship with your negotiating “partner” is possible when your behaviour is grounded in respect and integrity. When you see and treat the other person as having needs, values and desires of their own, respect what differences exist, and work together to find solutions that work for both parties, you are negotiating with respect and integrity.
Now, the “solution” may not provide the exact outcome you had envisioned, OR it may lead to an even better outcome than you had ever imagined.
Coming up next in our series on Negotiating With Integrity: How Your Mindset Can Mess You Up