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What do you aspire to achieve?
Aspirations are characterized by Merriam-Webster as “a strong desire to accomplish something high or great; an object of desire.” Aspiration levels fluctuate in every negotiation. In a negotiation, anything you say and do affects the other side's aspiration levels in a specific direction. Since anything you say and do influences the aspiration levels of the other side, it must also be valid that everything the other side says and does influences your aspiration levels. And the scary part is that it's not just the other side that has an effect on your aspiration rate.
In a negotiation, everything you say and do to influence the other side has an effect on your own aspiration rate. Both your hand and the other side are constantly driving aspiration levels up or down. In any agreement, you want the other party's expectations to be lower. It should be an essential component of your negotiation strategy. What you miss is that what you say and do will have the effect of bargaining with the other side on your behalf. In essence, you bargain against yourself and what you say to the other side affects your aspiration levels and goals. Consider it for a moment. Have you ever said something about a product or service that made you wonder if the price the seller was asking was really that bad?
If that's the case, you've negotiated with the other side against your own interests. You've started thinking or behaving in ways that are impacting your aspiration rate. And as a result, you've reduced your goals and agreed with the other side, telling yourself that spending more is worthwhile. You persuaded yourself to do so, which is exactly what you intend to do to the other party. Enable them to convince themselves.
What values do you have?
The desired effect can be achieved by the value you bring to a negotiation. I worked as an actor for several years, and those experiences have helped me in all of my negotiations. We have "tells" just like in the poker game I mentioned in the previous chapter. In a poker game or a negotiation, tells are signals that could reveal our intentions, moods, and probably our next move. While honing his acting skills, an actor learns to monitor and manipulate certain says. Every good actor learns to reveal what he wants to reveal while concealing what he doesn't want you to see. In all of your negotiations, you must learn to do exactly that.
You must act like an actor. I'd even go so far as to suggest that anyone in your company who is interested in some kind of negotiation take a couple of acting classes. What is the explanation for this? All you say and do during a negotiation has a direct impact on your aspiration rate. And, as we saw in the previous chapter, if it affects the aspiration levels, it also affects the aspiration levels on the other hand. That's right. The willingness of the other side to compromise is influenced by the Presentation Value you bring to the table. You can see the art of negotiation in action by watching any successful actor in a film, television show, or stage production. There must be an equal and opposite reaction to any action.
Every good actor anticipates the reaction of the other actor, just as you must in a negotiation. During your next negotiation, imagine yourself as a character in a play. It is your duty to respond to what the other side says. Consider your reaction now. Before you respond, think about it! What impact would it have on the other side's aspirations? Is it the aspiration levels, and therefore the aspirations of the opposing side, or is it decreasing aspiration levels? To influence the other side's aspiration levels, you must behave and respond as though you were being directed by an outside power.
Be a good Actor.
Every negotiation requires you to be an actor on that level. Preparing for your acting debut will help you negotiate better. Before the play begins or the audience is admitted, what does an actor do? He practices, and you must as well. You must memorize your lines, practice your reactions, observe your body language, and “block” the scene just like an actor. No one should ever enter into a negotiation without first practicing what they're going to say. Consider this: if I invited you to a Broadway play, a movie, or even a screening of the latest hit sitcom, you would almost certainly accept. Then I inform you that tickets to this Broadway performance, film, or special screening of the new sitcom are extremely costly.
Then I tell you that the actors in this play have never seen the script, have never rehearsed, and have never worked with a producer. Will you still be able to pay a high ticket price? The vast majority of us will say no. Why would any of us want to pay a lot of money to see an unscripted, unrehearsed play, television series, or movie? In a negotiation, the same must be true for you. Why would you, or should you, expect your company to pay a high price for you to enter into an unprepared negotiation? Any negotiation should be practiced beforehand.
For certain talks, what it takes is a partner to play the other side and then carrying out the agreement. You should gather a cast, a team, and a director to listen to the mock negotiation and then advise the team for possible negotiations. Members of the organization should take turns playing both sides. Rearrange the cast members so that everyone is on the team's side, then on the opposing team's side. I am sure that you and your company will find it to be both time and money well spent.
You will find answers to questions you may not have been prepared to ask, as well as questions the other side may not be prepared to answer, in these mock negotiations. What is the explanation for this? They didn't prepare and they didn't practice. These simulated negotiations can also reveal weakened areas in your negotiations, such as your vulnerabilities, your team's vulnerabilities, and your organisation's vulnerabilities—those chinks in the shield that might enable the other side to gain or even take control of the negotiation, giving them strength. If you practice, the next negotiation will be a surefire award winner.
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