Polite Business Negotiations

Business negotiations are a fact of life for most professionals. But there’s a world of difference between smart negotiation tactics and manipulative ploys.

Many people mistakenly put too much energy into manipulating others to get what they want instead of strategizing to conduct a mutually respectful negotiation. We’ve all seen these manipulative ploys – behaviors designed to throw the other negotiator off-guard so he inadvertently agrees to things while emotionally unnerved. These include maneuvers such as deferring decisions to a higher authority to buy time, asking for more at the end of the negotiation, artificially raising one’s voice to challenge a stated price, or pitting offers against those of fictitious competitors.

The ethical negotiator resists these shortcuts, and instead uses a professional and methodical approach. Here are nine tips to help you succeed as a savvy, ethical negotiator:

o Plan your strategy. Know ahead of time what you want, what you think you’ll get, and what your “walk away” position is. During the planning phase, set your aspirations as high as possible and find out as much as you can about the other negotiator. Ask yourself, “What will they likely open with or ask for during the meeting?”

o List your “bargaining currencies.” Compile a list of items you may use to bargain with during the negotiation in order to move the discussion in a favorable direction. Currencies can include the timing of a final transaction, the support and service required, or the number of units you will take. The longer your list, the stronger your starting position.

o Research the other negotiator. Find out as much as possible about the other party beforehand. Is he/she a forceful negotiator? Does he/she have time constraints on the project? Is his/her company solidly in place or is it one that is still building a reputation? If you know the other negotiator’s style you will be able to modify how you typically communicate in a way that flexes more in the other person’s direction, thus improving rapport.

o Create a positive climate. Your goal when face-to-face with your negotiator is to be conversational, relational, and energetic. Body language should communicate receptivity and a willingness to listen to the other person’s point of view.

o Bring an agenda both parties can use. This action will subtly give you control over the meeting. Get agreement from your fellow negotiator. Saying something like, “Does this include everything we need to discuss?” will ensure that you are both at the same starting point. If the other negotiator challenges the content of the agenda, this will be the first part f the negotiation you must tackle.

o Neutrally obtain information. Ask open-ended questions to gain as much information as possible during the negotiation. At this stage, remain as nonjudgmental as possible. For example, acknowledge everything but agree to little. During this phase focus on uncovering the importance of various factors to your opponent. If you know what the other person values and in what order, you will be a better negotiator.

o State positions. You and your fellow negotiator must state your respective positions, which often means talking price. Always get the other person to talk dollars first, because it generally gives you a stronger position. Remember, unless both of you clearly know the other’s starting position, subsequent negotiation will be fruitless.

o Bargain methodically. Remember that giving and getting concessions is part of the process. For every concession you give, make sure you receive one in return. Because most concessions occur at the end of a negotiation, retain as many of them as long as possible so you can trade at the very end.

o Agree in writing. You should write a contract as soon as possible outlining agreements. If the final legal document will take some time, at least get a co-signed letter of agreement while you await detailed paperwork.

The Lazy Speaker’s Way of Spicing Up Your Presentation

The average attention span of a literate adult is 20 minutes.

Good, you think to yourself. 20 minutes is plenty of time.

But how many speeches have you sat through where you fell asleep within the first two minutes?

And how afraid are you that people are going to do the same for yours?

It seems terribly obvious: unless you’re interesting, no one is going to pay attention. When you watch an episode of the O.C. or Gray’s Anatomy, you’re there to be entertained. You watch because the plot twists and the developing relationships on-screen are interesting. Not interesting? You switch the channel.

People may not have the luxury of turning off a speaker. But they can certainly turn off their own brains, and if you’re not careful, you’ll find most people snoozing in their chairs.

Find out your audience’s expectations, and do your best to break them. Does your audience expect you to be very formal? Take off your jacket and walk out from behind your podium. Does your audience expect you to be very serious? Be irreverent. Be self-deprecating.

One simple way to do this is to ask unexpected questions. It makes people think and also keeps them awake because it’s embarrassing to be singled out for sleeping.

5) Laugh! Never underestimate the power of humour. It’s been said to the death, but somehow people still don’t seem to get it. And they end up with dead audiences.

And I don’t mean just a humorous beginning or ending. Make sure you keep it up! It’s a pity if your audience doesn’t pay attention to the body of your speech.

6) Be visual. Okay, the above blog post advises that you ‘show a (half) naked woman’. But take that with a pinch of salt. It might not be appropriate, and you never know when you might have a dedicated, stone-throwing feminist in your audience.

Instead, you can be visual. It’s pretty much an undisputed fact that we remember images better than words. If you have a powerpoint presentation, make it visually striking. At the most basic level, it’s as simple as bolding words to make them stand out. At higher levels, you can add images or even videos.

7) If you’re stuck with words only, then use what fiction writers and poets have been using throughout the ages: metaphor, simile, and analogy. All these techniques are meant to call up images in the mind of the reader – or in your case, the listener – and help them retain your message better.

8) Tell stories [http://blog.ericfeng.com/getting-your-audience-engaged-excited-at-the-edge-of-their-seats-at-all-times]. It may sound difficult but it’s not, because we do it all the time.

When you tell your friends about the time you were stuck in a traffic jam or about dealing with your horrible boss or about the time you tried so hard to get tickets to a concert, you’re essentially portraying the essence of life: conflict.

Tell your audience about a particular conflict you resolved. It endears you to them and also helps them empathize with you. Besides that, stories are simply far more memorable and interesting than a series of unconnected facts.

9) Start writing your speech early. A lot of people wait till the very last minute to start working on their presentation, which results in them being unconfident and boring. If you don’t craft your jokes and stories carefully first, you’ll end up telling them badly or not telling them at all.

10) Keep your role as a public speaker in mind, all the time. You can start keeping a folder of notes or materials to use in any speech.

If something interesting happens to you, write it down. If a friend tells you a good joke or if you happen to read a nice anecdote from a book or the Internet, write it down. You never know when it’ll come in handy.

Noticing – Deliberate Embodiment in the Present

It’s not generally easy for us human beings to adopt new habits. One thing that helps is to make them easy. Noticing is a habit made easy by my seventh grade teacher and Dick Olney.

Living in Turkey, it was natural to hear the call to worship several times a day. A teacher at the time invited our class to pause whenever we heard it, be quiet, still our bodies and notice. That stuck. When I moved back to the states, sirens and red lights and now the sound of an airplane overhead invites that same pause -modern mindfulness bells.

Long before mindfulness was as accessible as it is today, Dick Olney occasionally talked about noticing practice. He taught how noticing practice can help us “Think in other categories.” What he meant by thinking in other categories is to wake up, to wake up from the bad dream of who we think we are IN ANY GIVEN MOMENT.

Woman: What I really want is to love, value and appreciate who I really am.

Dick: What about just experiencing it?

(Excerpted from Alive and Real)

Noticing is a practice like that, an invitation into becoming aware of your experience in the moment. This awareness is an invitation in gradual expansions in acceptance. For acceptance is free from the pull of liking or disliking. The awareness that comes from noticing without the inhibition of judgment, criticism or evaluation is liberated from clinging to some idea of good or bad, right or wrong, pleasant or unpleasant.

Noticing practice can also be an antidote to apathy or pain. You may find yourself savoring the floating moments of time – but that is NOT the goal. The goal is to simply notice.

I took to heart Dick’s teaching not to wait until you are in the middle of a fire to practice a fire drill. This idea struck a chord with me. I had been a dancer for about 20 years, practiced yoga and meditation for several years by the time I met Dick. Practice makes sense to me.

Though I do meditate, my noticing practice is not a formal sit down mindfulness meditation kind of practice, but a walking around and pausing to experience life in this moment kind of practice. The savoring of life’s floating moments happens unbidden, surprising me. It’s a habit that bears fruit in the most surprising places.

Of course, noticing involves acceptance. The more complete the experience of acceptance is, the more interesting I find the noticing and vice versa. It can become a pleasant game of acceptance. Practicing acceptance in this way becomes alive.

In the beginning, it is useful to put your attention to various elements of life generally thought to be noxious, like smelly garbage. Ask yourself, “can I accept this?” Remember, you don’t have to like it, you don’t have to somehow agree that “it” is OK. The question is “can I accept this?”

Practicing with inanimate objects can have an effect when you encounter another person who you judge as somehow not good or OK, somehow less than OR greater than. First, accept that you are judging them (and you). Then, practice accepting them in that moment. Your acceptance does not mean that you like or approve. It means you can accept that they are present.

For a more disciplined approach to noticing practice, try these tips:

Set a reminder on your phone or watch every couple of hours or so. You could use an app like CHILL that has inspirational quotes.
If you spend a lot of time in the car, use stop lights and stop signs to notice.
For 30 seconds to 1 minute pause, notice. Become aware. Notice your thoughts. Notice the images around you, emotions in the moment and body sensations. Take a few easy breaths. Just noticing.
Don’t aim to find something to appreciate. Linger as you like.
Simply notice the creation. Notice without the inhibition of judgment, criticism or evaluation.
Notice your thoughts.
Notice your breath.
Use your senses – what are you seeing, feeling, hearing, tasting – what are you sensing?