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Want to be a Better Negotiator?

Unless you are a professional negotiator you may not enjoy this aspect of doing business.  Many of us avoid negotiating because we don’t like confrontation, we are uncomfortable advocating for ourselves and/or we don’t want to lose.

Whether we are negotiating with a business partner or a family member, emotions can get the best of us.  The author of this Harvard Business Review article Emotion & the Art of Negotiation says, “Bringing anger to a negotiation is like throwing a bomb into the process.”

One way to reduce negative emotions even in the most contentious negotiation is an exercise called “Just Like Me,” which asks us to consider:

  • This person has beliefs, perspectives and opinions, just like me.
  • This person has hopes, anxieties and vulnerabilities, just like me.
  • This person has friends, family and perhaps children who love them, just like me.
  • This person wants to feel respected, appreciated and competent, just like me.
  • This person wishes for peace, joy and happiness, just like me.
  • Because this person is a human being, just like me.

I invite you to try making these statements out loud.  Then notice how you feel about the person on the other side of the negotiating table and envision how the outcome might change.

Over, Under, Around and Through

Do you remember Grover on Sesame Street teaching kids about Over, Under, Around and Through?  Check it out: Grover on YouTube.  Grover’s lesson is useful in understanding how we respond to negative emotions like sadness, guilt, anger or jealousy.  Most of us do whatever we can to go over, under or around those emotions.

Research shows, however, that we need to go through the experience of feeling uncomfortable emotions so we can learn how to accept and deal with them.  Like Grover, we can’t just do it once.  Experiencing these emotions throughout our lives can make us more resilient and able to bounce back sooner.  We can also develop more empathy for others who are dealing with difficult situations.

If you find yourself trying to go over, under or around something, I invite you to consider what benefits might be on the other side if you let yourself go through it.

You Can’t Go Through Life as a Cardboard Cutout

I recently saw the movie “Railway Man,” a powerful and moving story about a World War II prisoner of war who confronts and ultimately forgives the man who tortured him. Much of the movie was very hard to watch but the ending was worth it.

Do you find yourself drawn to stories or experiences that tap into your emotions or do you tend to avoid them? Compartmentalizing our feelings can help create a sense of control and maintain our sanity. Our challenge is opening up those compartments and dealing with the anger, grief or whatever we locked away. Movies, books, art, music, and nature can be safe ways to release those feelings. If we go through life as a cardboard cutout with no emotions, something might escape when we least expect it.

I invite you to find a healthy emotional outlet this week and share your story with someone…