Next week, on Monday, March 25th, we’re hosting another Comfort Circle™ dinner. The theme: negotiation. If you’ve been following along, you know that previously I wrote about the roles of mindset and power when it comes to negotiating. Today, I want to talk about something else that you need to know get to an enthusiastic “yes” and “yes”.

Hopefully, these last few weeks have inspired you to pay even more attention to when and how you negotiate. In so doing, what have you discovered about your style? What do you need to do to enhance your skills?

This isn’t the first time I’m writing on this topic, so I thought it’d be good to revisit some points I’ve talked about before when it comes to negotiating styles and skills. Especially given how much they influence your approach and possibly the outcome.

What’s Your Style?

Here’s what is a bit ironic about the question I’m asking: it implies that your negotiating style is somehow different than your “style” when it comes to other spheres of your life. But, it isn’t!

There’s a reason for the adage that says, “wherever you go, there you are.” Sure, different situations (negotiations or otherwise) bring out different aspects of your style. However, you don’t become an entirely different person, right? (If so, that’s a whole different conversation!)

So, in general, do you like to compete; do you view yourself as a collaborator; do you have a tendency to compromise – and not feel good about it ; do you often avoid tricky conversations – regardless of the topic; do you find yourself being so accommodating that you downplay your own needs and wants?

As I’ve written previously, compete, collaborate, compromise, avoid and accommodate are common and different styles of negotiating. And more than likely you tend to use a combination of these styles…unconsciously. Because your style’s origin can probably be traced back to your temperament (nature); to your upbringing (nurture); and to any modifications you’ve made based upon experience.

Therefore, knowing your negotiating style is one of the things you need to know to get to an enthusiastic “yes” and “yes”.

For clues, examine how you interact in other spheres of your life. Because that is who you are bringing to the negotiating table – literally and figuratively.

One Skill; Multiple Applications

Let’s take a look at a variety of skills that you likely practice everyday of your life, outside of “negotiating” scenarios:

  • Analysis
    It’s probably easier to ask you what part of your day doesn’t include some sort of analysis than to ask what does. From the moment you wake up, you are weighing and examining data, options and potential outcomes against the back-drop of an intended goal. Some days that is as simple as, “Which subway line will get me there faster?” or “Which route should I drive?” Other days, it’s much more complex, “We finally found a school where our child with special needs thrives; where is the tuition money going to come from?”
  • Preparation
    In other words, how do you get “ready” for what you want? Said differently, do you set goals; do you set boundaries: do you set expectations; do you arm yourself with information; do you think through possible outcomes? Do you assess the resources you’ll need?
  • Active listening
    Do you pay attention to both what is said as well as what isn’t? Do you also tune into body language, which includes tone when speaking by phone? Are you using open-ended questions as a way of listening to understand? Do you stay present by monitoring your self-talk?
  • Emotional control
    Do you keep your emotions in check when you feel slighted? Maybe someone bumps into you and they don’t apologize. Or, maybe someone skips the line – as if you aren’t waiting, too. Sure, it pissed you off, but you still choose to respond in a calm, controlled manner.
  • Social skills
    This is somewhat related to emotional control and communication, but it is largely about being aware of your “environment.” Do you pause before speaking to weigh the impact of your words? Do you consider cultural norms (or expectations) as you interact with people?
  • Problem-solving
    What solution are you working on today? There is something you’re trying to figure out the answer to, or that you are trying to fix. There is some gap you’re trying to close. What you do and how in the space between “here” and “there” — that’s problem-solving.
  • Make a decision
    You may not always like the decisions you feel you have to make. But you make them – in fact, you make several on any given day.
  • Communication
    This where all of the above comes together, really. Communication is about talking, messaging, making a connection, and making a decision. But to hear and be heard, you have to be clear and work on minimizing misunderstandings.

If you’re reading this in the morning, think about the day before; if you’re reading this in the evening, think about the current day and take a moment to jot down examples of how you’ve practiced the above skills throughout your day. Because…

…another thing you need to know to get to “yes” and “yes” is this: you already possess the necessary skills.

Remember that! And lean into the skills at which you are good and commit to improving those that you aren’t. But don’t let the context of being in a negotiation – especially a high stakes one – rob you of the awareness that you are aptly equipped with knowing “how to” negotiate.

As I shared before, I wholeheartedly believe that the way you become a better negotiator (in all situations) is to pay attention to how you negotiate (in all situations).

In each and every negotiation, you are leaving behind clues about your mindset, power, style and skills. These are part of your toolkit. They are there for your examination. They are there to be your guide. Use this information and insight to help you navigate the terrain that represents both the substance of what you’re negotiating, as well as the relationships involved. Use it to help you get to an enthusiastic “yes” and “yes”.

And keep in mind that like much in life, mastering negotiation is not a one-and-done exercise. It is on-going.

p.s. My hope is that this series becomes part of your tool-kit for continuously reflecting on and improving your approach to negotiating.

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