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The Best Negotiation Happens When You Inspire People.

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We all have aspirations.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes aspirations this way: “A strong desire to achieve something high or great; An object of desire.” During every negotiation, aspiration levels constantly change. Everything you say and do in a negotiation drives the other side’s aspiration levels in a particular direction. Because everything you say and do affects the other side’s aspiration levels, it must be true that everything the other side says and does affects your aspiration levels. And the frightening thing is that not only the other side affects your aspiration levels. Everything you say and do in a negotiation to affect the other side also affects your aspiration levels. Both your side and the other side continually drive aspiration levels up or down—for both sides. In any negotiation, you want the other side to lower their aspiration levels. It should be a key to your negotiating strategy. What you forget, however, is that what you say and do can have the effect of negotiating on yourself for the other side. In effect, you negotiate against yourself, which happens because you affect your aspiration levels and targets by what you say to the other side. Think about that. Have you ever said something about a product or service that made you start to think that the price the seller asked was not such a bad price after all? If so, you have negotiated for the other side against yourself. You have begun to think or act in a way that affects your aspiration levels. And in doing so, you have lowered your aspirations and agreed with the other side, convincing yourself that paying more is worth it. You talked yourself into it, which is precisely what you want to do to the other side. Allow them to talk themselves into it.

The Presentation Value

The Value you bring to a negotiation will have that much-desired effect. I spent many years as an actor, and those years have served me well in all my negotiations. Like the poker game that I alluded to in a previous chapter, we have “tells.” Tells are signs that might give away our intentions, our moods, and possibly our next move in a poker game or, likewise, in a negotiation. While an actor trains and hones his acting skills, he learns to control and manipulate those tells. Every good actor learns to show what he wants to show and to hide what he does not want you to see. You need to learn to do just that in all your negotiations. You need to become an actor. I would even go so far as recommending that every person in your organization involved in any form of negotiations take an acting class or two. The reason? Everything said and done in any negotiation directly affects your aspiration levels. And as discussed in the previous chapter, if it affects your aspiration levels, then it affects the other side’s aspiration levels. That’s right. The Presentation Value you bring to the negotiation affects the other side’s ability to negotiate. Watch any good actor in a film, television show, or stage production, and you will see the art of negotiating take place. For every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction. Every good actor always plans what the other actor’s reaction will be—just as you must in a negotiation. Think of yourself as an actor in a play during your next negotiation. Your job is to react to what the other side says. Now, think about that reaction. Think about it before you react! How will it affect the other side’s aspiration levels? Is it driving those aspiration levels up, and thus the hopes of the other side, or is it driving aspiration levels down? To affect the other side’s aspiration levels, you must act and react as though some outside force were directing you.

the-best-negotiation-happens-when-you-inspire-people

Shakespeare wrote, “The whole world is a stage.”

You must be an actor on that stage in every negotiation. Preparing for your acting debut prepares for the negotiation. What does an actor do before the play opens or the audience is allowed in? He rehearses, and you must. Just as an actor, you must learn your lines, practice your responses, note your body language, and “block” the scene. No one should ever enter into a negotiation without first rehearsing the scene. Think about this—if I invited you to go to a Broadway show, to a movie, or even to a screening of the newest hit sitcom, you might well say yes. Then, I tell you that the tickets to this Broadway show, movie, or the special screening of the new sitcom are very expensive. Then, I say to you that the actors in this production have never seen the script, and they have never rehearsed, and they have had no director. Would you still want to pay a hefty price for the ticket? Most of us would say no. Why would any of us want to pay a large sum of money to see an unrehearsed, unscripted play, television series, or movie? The same must hold for you in a negotiation. Why would you, or should you, expect your organization to pay a hefty price for you to enter into a negotiation for which you are unprepared? Every negotiation should have a rehearsal. For some negotiations, it can be as simple as pairing with someone to play the other side, then acting out the negotiation. For other negotiations, you should put together a cast, a team complete with a director who can listen to the mock negotiation and then advise the team. Have members of your organization play both sides. Switch those cast members around, so every person is on your team’s side, then on the other team’s side. I guarantee that you and your organization will find that it is time well spent and money well saved.

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In these mock negotiations, you will find answers to questions you might not have been prepared to answer, and you will find questions you might not have been prepared to ask—questions the other side might not be prepared to answer. Why? Because they didn’t rehearse. These mock negotiations will also shed light on weaker areas of your negotiations: your vulnerabilities, your team’s vulnerabilities, your organizations vulnerabilities—those chinks in the armor that might allow the other side to gain or even take control of the negotiation—and thus, give them power. Rehearse, and your next negotiation will be a guaranteed award winner

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