In 2016, the World Economic Forum predicted that the Fourth Industrial Revolution would transform the way that we live and the way that we work. Robotics, AI, machine learning, biotechnology and genomics would move us forward. It would result in some jobs disappearing, some jobs staying and others that weren’t in existence, being created.
Fast forward to 2020, and our lives have been transformed. And yes, some of it has to do with the advances in technology. But most of it has been due to a global health crisis that has impacted us in ways that no-one could have predicted. Genomics and epidemiology have worked their way into our everyday conversations (or maybe it’s just me, having spent most of 2020 in lockdown in Melbourne).
Getting back to 2016 for a moment, the World Economic Forum also predicted that the most in demand skills in 2020 would be:
- Complex Problem Solving
- Critical Thinking
- People Management
- Coordinating with Others
- Emotional Intelligence
- Judgement and Decision Making
- Service Orientation
- Cognitive Flexibility.
But, if we look at the latest LinkedIn Learning 2020 Workplace Learning Report, the top five paint a slightly different picture:
- Emotional Intelligence
Now it’s all about upskilling and reskilling. In a world where technology reigns, building and investing in soft skills, or interpersonal skills has become even more crucial. These are the skills that help people get things done and as such are indispensable. But perhaps the most compelling view is that if skill gaps aren’t bridged within the next 3-5 years, businesses will be affected negatively in terms of future growth, customer experience and satisfaction, product or service quality and innovation.
So, why is this important from a negotiation standpoint? Because all these skills combined, are crucial to becoming a more effective negotiator.
Creativity in Negotiation
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe”. We’ve probably all heard this quote from Abraham Lincoln, or something similar when it comes to preparation. Good preparation is the key to a successful negotiation – defining what outcome you want to achieve from your negotiation by considering what your issues are, what your realistic expectations are against each issue (your intend position), and what you want to achieve or avoid in relation to the issue.
So, how can I be creative in this process? If the negotiation is about addressing the issues of both parties and they are clear, where does creativity come in? Well, the creativity lies in creating a wish list. A wish list is a list of all those things that you would like to have in an ideal world. If you need to step away from your intend towards your must achieve or must avoid, use your wishlist to replace value. Get the creative juices flowing by getting not only your team, but people from other areas within your business to contribute to developing your wishlist. Having others involved will bring new ideas and diversity of thought to the process.
Persuasion vs Negotiation
Persuasion plays a part in negotiating. It involves influencing, selling, convincing and challenging the other party. Before you get into a lengthy negotiation, you might want to use persuasion to attempt to get the other party to come around to your way of thinking, or point of view. If it works, it costs you nothing, so there isn’t any harm in giving it a go. It can help to resolve conflict too.
But it’s important to recognise when it isn’t working and spend most of your time focusing on negotiating dialogue. This involves having a strong opening statement, and constructive conversations about understanding the needs, priorities, constraints, interests, concerns and motives of the other party, by asking powerful questions.
If you conduct all your negotiations on your own, consider how you can work with other people in your team to drive better outcomes. Specifically, having other people to help you perform different tasks is a good way to start. A lead negotiator (not to be confused with a business leader or the highest authority in your team or organisation), can conduct the negotiation, make proposals and trade. A summariser can ask questions to seek information, clarify, buy thinking time and re-focus the discussion. An observer watches, listens and tries to understand the motivation of the other party – without speaking. Collaborating can bring advantages. Perhaps your colleagues have picked up on signals from the other party that you haven’t, or maybe they are able to provide input into different ways of achieving your objectives.
Being Adaptable in Negotiations
To achieve your objective, you need to have a strategy - it is a key component of preparation. However, many of us get too attached to our strategy, and become inflexible around it, which can lead to our negotiations taking longer than needed or falling over, which in turn make it difficult for the objective to be achieved. So, being flexible, or adaptable is the key here. If new information comes to light, or for some reason your planned strategy isn’t working, take some time out to re-work it. Being adaptable can help you to achieve your objectives in a shorter timeframe.
The Emotionally Intelligent Negotiator
Popularised by Daniel Goleman in 1996, emotional intelligence has five key components. These are: self-awareness, self-regulation, social skill, empathy and motivation. Self-awareness relates to our ability to know our own emotions, strengths and weaknesses, and how they impact on others. Self-regulation involves how you control your disruptive emotions. Social skill is all about how you manage relationships, so you get along with others. Empathy is when you consider other people’s feelings when making decisions, and motivation is all about understanding what motivates someone else.
Being emotionally intelligent can help you achieve better results with your negotiations. Understanding if you are a competitive or collaborative negotiator can be the first step towards understanding how emotional intelligence can play out in a negotiation.
Co-operative negotiators create win-win situations. They focus on long term relationships, build trust, are tolerant of another person’s view, are emotionally detached and aren’t easily irritated, all of which relate to emotional intelligence. Conversely, competitive negotiators are focused on the transaction, are suspicious, intolerant of other viewpoints get involved emotionally, are easily irritated and create win-lose situations.
So, consider your own style and how working on building your emotional intelligence could positively impact on your future negotiations and relationships with counter parties.