The Supreme Art of War
Most people don’t understand the goal behind a successful negotiation.
Being right is not the aim but having the right mindset is!
I have around 10 strategies that I use in combat, however, I will underline my favorite 3 and hope they will make your personal life and your business life better. These moves create windows of opportunities that will help you to achieve whatever you want. How do you feel about saying NO? I love it! No is the word that opens the battle of negotiation without limit.
Don’t believe me, check this scenario:
– Mum, can I go away for the weekend with my boyfriend?
– How about if I wash up after dinner every night for a week?
– hmm ok, you are saying no but really you want to say yes. I’m willing to take Jerry for a walk before school every day.
– No… You should do that anyway. It’s your dog.
– You are right. Well, I’m looking for a common ground here so perhaps you want to give me a hint?
– … I tell you what, your professor of History is waiting for your essay about World War II, why don’t you submit that this week and ask him to correct it by Friday? A+ or A you are going, lower than A, you are staying. Up to you.
Boom! we have the deal. I remember these negotiations very well. I always came prepared. Thought of all possibilities and I would not start the conversation before doing my homework. In this particular situation, I submitted my paper a week early and had an A in my pocket by Friday. Great weekend away!
Ok, where is the magic in saying No? We fear change! As soon as we say no, we ease our mind into options and we are more willing to listen. So really when a person says no, he/she doesn’t really mean it. It’s the beginning of a conversation that will change into ‘yes’ if you play it right.
Have you ever heard about Mirror approach? It’s an amazing tactic that can bring people’s thinking together without making anyone feel like he/she lost out. Have you ever had a situation when you have been assigned a task that didn’t really make sense? Now Imagine that your boss is telling you to do it. A few weeks ago I had to write a quotation that was incorrect. It didn’t add up. So I called my boss. I used my calm but assertive voice and I started with ‘I’m sorry boss, do you have a moment? I need to double check this quotation because the hard copy is not really clear. Could we go through it again?’ So he looks into his notes and tells me over the phone what he has written down. Which is still incorrect. I repeat this over the phone and he confirms it. On that point, after a moment I wrote him an email with the numbers. I knew that once he looks over my email he will see the error for himself. In fact, he called me after an hour to tell me that there was an error.
Personal Assistant is a very supportive position. We are not working for someone to show our egos or that we are right. Our role is to protect and help the person that is in charge. That is why a PA’s negotiation skills need to be extremely advanced.
You can be sure that everyone you meet is looking for two types of things: the need to feel safe and the need to be in control. If you can deliver this to them, you are already winning.
Emotion is a tool.
A lot of business people will disagree with me on this but trust me the more you know about someone, the more power you have. Playing dumb is a valid technique. Important to remember that you don’t have to agree with the person that you are dealing with. I’m talking about understanding the situation from that person’s point of view. Emotions have two levels: the “presenting” behaviour, the part that you can hear and see and the “underlying” feeling that motivates the behaviour.
A silly example? Years ago my partner bought me a very expensive watch. Knowing me well. He told me that if I lost this watch I’m dead. Literally!
A few weeks later I lost the watch. I was terrified. As soon as I walked into the house he asked me what had happened. I told him everything and I started to apologise, dropped a few tears as well to make my case even stronger. I was labeling negatives in order to eliminate the problem as quick as possible. In the end, he laughed and cuddled me. He knew I’m putting on the show but at that moment he was in control. He said, in the end, it’s only a watch. I know it’s a silly example but it is a very strong tactic. Especially when you are dealing with someone with power. Top guys like to be treated like they are on top. However, if you use any of my tactics the real power will be in your hands. You won’t get praises for it but destiny will be in your hands.