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You can't always trust your gut

Keith Stacey

The most dangerous part of flying is take-off when a plane loses power. If this happens the instinctive reaction of the pilot will be to lift the nose of the plane and try to gain altitude. This response will lead to a stall and an out of control crash to the earth. A trained pilot however, will overcome instinct and drop the nose of the plane by pushing forward on the joystick. This will result in an increase in speed and the ability to control the aircraft.

When a car loses traction in a corner and the rear wheels start to slide an inexperienced driver will steer harder into the corner increasing the chances of a spin, loss of control and an accident. The experienced driver will steer in the direction of the slide and gain control of the car again.

When racing downwind under spinnaker, yachts develop a tendency to roll from side to side. The instinct is to steer away from the roll and that has the effect of increasing the severity of the roll. The experienced sailor learns to do the opposite and steer the boat under the spinnaker thereby reducing the roll and gaining control of the boat.

Similarly, when we are negotiating our natural instincts are often not in our best interest and we must learn counter intuitive behaviour. Their first instinct is to “play our cards close to our chests” and not reveal key information that may have a positive impact on the negotiation. Experienced negotiators understand that information is the “oxygen” that all negotiations require and for both parties to achieve their objectives. They are generous in their disclosure and encourage the other party do the same.

When it comes to making proposals inexperienced negotiators are often reluctant to make the first proposal. They are either fearful of rejection or unwilling to “show their hand”. Experienced negotiators understand that making the first proposal puts them in control of the negotiating process.

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