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Reinventing Yourself as a Negotiator

By JB Shelton

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In the Beginning: Your Negotiating Style

Even if you consider Adam and Eve’s story an apocryphal adventure, as a negotiator reinventing yourself you will reap the benefits of examining their Garden of Eden shenanigans.

Imagine yourself as one or more of the characters in Eden. Who does your personal negotiating style or styles emulate? Don’t hold back — you want to face the good and evil of the naked truth and put your thoughts in print.

God Creative, innovative, all-knowing leader. Flexible to a point, over-reacts to anger issues.
Adam Proud, first of his kind, willing to share. Acts before thinking, doesn’t consider consequences.
Eve Helpmate, curious, shares joys. Easily manipulated, blames others for own decisions.
Serpent Motivator, concise communicator. Troublemaker, liar, no concern for others.

Tweeting about Your Skills and Talents

These are not tweets to share: They’re purely to inform you about you.

In a 140-character maximum tweet confession, non-censoring stream-of-consciousness, reveal the talents and abilities you’re proud of, come naturally, work to your benefit easily and often.

In a second tweet, reveal those characteristics you find frustrating, ineffective, and unprofessional. Read both tweets several times, experiencing your emotional reactions as positives and negatives.

Applying Your Insights

Select a recently concluded negotiation and jot down a summary description. Choose a negotiation you think of as important, but that you’re reliving all too often, wishing you could do over, second-guessing how your actions and attitude affected the outcome. You’re about to do an in-depth examination of that negotiation. You don’t have a word limit. You do have an obligation to yourself to remember that negotiation in detail:

  • What were your goals?
  • Who were your allies and competitors?
  • What skills, talents, knowledge and experiences did you use?
  • What was the outcome?

Your Answers Are Keys to Negotiating Effectively

Did you give into temptation, revealing your low figure before your competitor revealed their’s? Did you maximize the effectiveness of your verbal and written communications abilities? Did you over- or under-react to an emotional moment?
How much clear thinking did you do before responding? Were future consequences a consequential part of your thinking? Did you find it impossible to delay immediate gratification?
What else frustrated you in the planning stage, during and after the negotiation? If you had a chance to negotiate the same situation over again, what would you do differently? Of equal importance, what would you do the same or even more so?
Did you let self doubts influence your negotiations? Was time management a factor in the negative results? How well did you research the negotiation topic and your competitors’ resources and needs? Were you flexible with your personality traits to match those of your competitors?
Were you intimidated when your competitor played the ‘I have to check with a higher authority’ gambit? Did you allow yourself to be intimidated or distracted?

Your On-Camera Challenge

Jot down a summary description of the next important negotiation in your life.
You’re about to communicate intimately with the most important person involved in your next negotiation: You.
Set up your video equipment with whatever device you prefer: camera, flip-video, computer. Turn off all prospective interruptions.
Stretch. Sit comfortably. Turn the camera on, smile and record only positive thoughts about the purpose of the negotiation, how it will benefit you, what talents and abilities you will use to gain the respect and cooperation of your competitor, what personality traits will be appropriate in communicating your ideas and goals, and why a positive outcome is in your future.
Watch your video, not only to review your positive attributes, but also to realize how much you’ve changed through the confidence of self-knowledge as a negotiator. Self-awareness is, after all, a positive aspect of our human condition wherever we create our lives outside the Garden of Eden.

JB Shelton is a freelance journalist based in Raleigh and Oxford, North Carolina. She writes about children growing up and grownups reinventing themselves. JB teaches ‘Reinvent Yourself in Writing’ at Duke University in Durham, NC. JB Shelton may be reached at or by e-mail at [email protected].

Copyright © 2011 JB Shelton
Copyright ©   2011  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  (November, 2011)