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Negotiation. A critical life skill. But not necessarily an easy one to master.

Let me tell you what I know.  In any form of negotiation, you have to start with the ‘end in mind’ … that is, you need to have a win-win mindset. Consider everyone involved, and ask yourself: How can this become a win-win conversation? And even though you know what you want, you definitely don’t know what the other person wants …

So where do you start? Well, you have to have some sort of influence on the other. Powerful influencing enables people to form strong partnerships so they can work with others to achieve goals. And this mindset, this understanding and belief, needs to be your foundation, your starting point.

The way to achieve this is by using your personal power, not your positional power.

Positional power is when leaders and individuals throw their power around because they are in a position of authority. They are driven by recognition, visibility and lead others through fear and manipulation for an outcome, ‘their’ outcome! And they don’t give a damn about what others want.

This is definitely not a win-win mindset. There is no love in this relationship, no trust, no respect and no cooperation.

Personal power comes from being someone worth following. It comes from knowing the basics of how to relate with others in a mutually respectful manner. You know when someone has confidence and respects themselves. You can see it and you can feel it. You sense that they are congruent with their own values and never compromise these.

Love yourself enough to set clear boundaries …

They understand their strengths and their opportunities, and lean towards working with their strengths. They have very clear boundaries and they have a lot of respect for themselves. They are always composed, they ask the right questions with sincere curiosity, and they listen. They create a safe space, where one feels respected, nurtured and develop long-lasting trusting relationships. In this space, individuals feel secure and therefore open up, they feel empowered and therefore driven with immense creativity and reach for greatness. They feel like they belong and they want to be included. They are involved and engaged.

If you aspire to be an influential leader, it is wise to invest in your personal development and do what it takes to be a highly emotionally intelligent human being.

The value reciprocity …

Most of us don’t consciously think about reciprocity in our relationships. We know this to be a valuable principle to live by, however, reciprocity can be difficult to develop and maintain if one individual in the relationship believes that they are, and must be, superior or in control. Reciprocity requires a spirit of cooperation, give and take, as well as an understanding of, and ability to embrace, interdependence.

To create a reciprocal relationship, both parties need to be able to accept responsibility and not play the ‘blame game’. The interdependence of a healthy relationship requires that both individuals accept personal responsibility. Respect must be reciprocal, and this includes philosophy, profession, principles, intelligence and creativity. Individuals need to be honest with themselves first so that they can be honest with others.

Great negotiators understand the how, when and where …

We all have these unconscious drivers as our units of exchange or our currency of exchange. If I give you this … what would I get in return? We all have different drivers depending what its related to. One to watch out for is dopamine addiction. Dopamine makes us feel good and it comes to us in many ways. Are you someone who loves a ‘to do’ list and gets a big buzz when everything on the list has been achieved? I hate to break it to you, but this is addictive behaviour.

If you are driven by tasks, which is directly connected to getting things done or the ability to perform assigned tasks, this is how you gain satisfaction from your achievement. But on the other hand, if you are driven by relationships, where connection is of great importance to you, teamwork and collaboration is your key driver, then you can imagine that maybe completing a task is not of great importance to you.

My driver is inspiration. I like to feel valued. I have a sense of purpose that provides meaning to the work I do and the people I hang out with. If I don’t feel valued in an organisation or am not aligned with the vision or the organisation, then it will take A LOT to influence me!

Diagnose the world of the other …  

When it comes to negotiation, which is a key skill in our relationships, then the key is to understand where they are coming from, as much as where you, yourself, are coming from.

When you are clear about the other person’s driver, then you know your leverage point by putting yourself on your colleague’s side. It’s that easy! Listen continuously for ‘currencies’. And then you can complete the exchange, this for that! The exchange might be knowledge for ownership. Contract for control or …. access for power. Once you have identified the relevant currencies, you are ready, and set to exchange!