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How To Negotiate - In Controversial And Explosive Situations

Greg Williams

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This negotiation lesson is not about watching someone's body language, or how you should listen to the unspoken word. Instead it's about long term negotiation positioning. The kind of positioning that can help you when you find yourself negotiating in and during controversial or explosive situations.

Recently there was a very explosive situation that occurred, related to a political figure and sex (surprise, surprise - OK, no commentary). As a result of that situation, the politician resigned from office. Now of course, he was not the first politician that got caught with his pants down (I did not have sex . . . never mind), but why is it that some politicians can stay in office during such turbulent times, while others have to resign? The answer to a great degree lies in the way they negotiate their way through the situation, while implementing their ‘game plan’ with the public.

When you're caught in a controversial or explosive negotiation situation how do you implement your ‘game plan'? In the end, it really goes back to positioning. Now you may be thinking, if an unexpected situation occurs that's controversial, one that I have not prepared for, how do I position myself for it? The answer . . .

Always treat people with dignity and respect. Now this is a lesson about negotiation and not morality, but the two are tightly interwoven. To the degree you brow beat people, look down on them, and treat them unfairly, you set yourself up for the same treatment. God forbid those people seek their retribution against you when you're down. This is to a great degree what happened in the latest political sex scandal. This particular politician did not have many friends. As a matter of fact, it's safe to say he had many more enemies than friends. People will wait to get you back and in some parts of the world, some people will wait longer than others.

Most likely you know my motto is, “You're always negotiating". It's the truth. You may not consider yourself to be negotiating when you're speaking to a colleague, a neighbor, or a friend, when you're just having a casual conversation, but you really are negotiating. Even if you don't consider that to be negotiating, you're giving insight into your personality, your character, and your values. As such, people make judgments about you that they store into memory. Later those judgments can lead them to being understanding, empathetic, and forgiving of a situation you may find yourself in, or they may have the exact opposite reaction to your situation. In either case, your prior actions will influence those that might impact your future.

If you really want to become a better, stronger, savvier negotiator, enhance your people skills and become more personable. Be more likable.

When it's all said and done, I go one better than the golden rule, which states, treat others the way you would have them treat you. Instead, I expound, treat people the way they want to be treated. By doing so you will be more likable, more respective, and positioned better should you encounter an explosive or controversial situation in which you have to negotiate . . . and everything will be right with the world.

The negotiation lessons are . . .

  • Start positioning yourself today for unforeseen explosive negotiation situations. Do this by being more understanding, forgiving, and tolerant of people. Act as though they will be part of the supreme jury that one day will determine the most important negotiation outcome of your life. Who knows, one day that may turn out to be the case.

  • When negotiating, don't be greedy. Don't hurt your negotiation partner by taking more than you need (I know this thought will “fly in the face" of some people), even if you're in a stronger negotiation position. Get what you need and really need what you get. It's always nice to get more from a negotiation session, but if you're too stringent, too inflexible, too insistent, too greedy, you may win the battle and lose the war.

  • Always remember, when you negotiate, there may be a tomorrow (another negotiation session with the same people/group in the future). Don't gouge people. Leave them feeling like they won something from the negotiation. If you gouge them today it may be at the expense of your own peril tomorrow.

    Greg Williams - The Master Negotiator

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