The other day I was setting up a room, ready to lead a negotiating course in Brisbane and a smartly dressed young woman walked into the room, coffee in hand - at least thirty minutes early. I must have looked surprised, because she shrugged lightly and said, ‘Punctuality is my superpower.’ We both shared a laugh and moved on to other topics.
Later that evening, I got to thinking. Punctuality. Yes, we all know that negotiators have to be on time – it shows respect for the other party and it’s always good to be on time, right? But is it anything more than that? Is it really significant to the outcomes of a negotiation?
Punctual people are generally organised and systematic; their days are planned. And with that planning comes a type of confidence. Carefree can be great, but disorganised doesn’t really inspire others to invest confidence in you.
You feel in control when you’re not running late and are in the room early. Your head is clear and you’re not thinking about whether you left the iron on or locked the back door. This allows for clearer thinking and more astute observations, and negotiation is all about observations.
Punctuality is about professionalism. It allows others to see you as trustworthy, reliable and it helps you stand out. If you are punctual, you can meet people as they enter the room, and you can then get a sense of their mood and personality. You can listen and start to gain insights into their worlds.
Additionally, Punctuality is about making time to build relationships and we all know that quality relationships are vital to successful negotiations. You can, of course, also choose the most appropriate place to sit, whether it be at the head of the table, or to one side.
So, the simple discipline of being punctual provides many benefits for the negotiator. Being punctual is also fundamental to treating others with respect and costs nothing to display.