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Ego Massaging to Negotiate Positively

By JB Shelton

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Being human, we want what we want when, where, why and how we want it. It’s a life force we can’t change, so I’m positive that controlling our attitudes and actions can only benefit each of us mentally, emotionally and physically. This control will bring about positive results in our roles as negotiators – before, during and after every negotiation.

Self-Indulgent Contemplation

Think about your first successful negotiation. Indulge in self-satisfactory memories: I certainly won’t ask you to wipe that grin off your face. But I will encourage you to recall details of what you did and what part positive thoughts and actions contributed to your defining it as successful. Consider how it was successful not only for you and your team, but also for your opponent.

Massaging your ego (deservedly so), gets you ready to make negotiating positively the substance of your style. Your successful negotiation created the groundwork to build longterm relationships, improve communications and solidify win-win outcomes. Verbally massaging your opponent’s ego will provide positive mutual benefits.

Combining the wisdom of experts with your experiences will transform you into a naturally positive negotiator.

Norman Vincent Peale: Pastor

In his perennially bestselling The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale advises, “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture. Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.”

Expanding on Peale’s positive visualizing:

When you create a mental image of your successful self, what do you look like, what are wearing, how confident is your demeanor and body image, how professional are the content and delivery of your communications? Be objective: Would you be impressed when you showed up to negotiate? What do you need to change about you to increase your confidence level?

Is your imagination running wild with non-existent obstacles? Are you focused on ‘what-if’ scenarios that are upsetting and confusing you? What if you thought about solutions to the ‘what-ifs’ before they happened? What if you calmly realized that they never will?

Herm Albright: Cynic and Humorist

Herm Albright, 19th century German painter and lithographer, said, “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.”

Self-confession: When folks inquire, “How are you?”, I respond, “Annoyingly happy.” I’m within my rights as a newlywed wife to evoke their smiles.

In the meeting room, what can you do to use a positive attitude to simultaneously annoy and amuse your colleagues and opponents? By taking control of how less-than-seriously you respond, you relax yourself and them.

Henry Ford, II: CEO, Family Business

“Never explain; never complain.”

Do you talk too much, revealing details that aren’t appropriate for the negotiation at hand, much less any of your opponent’s business? Does telling it all make you feel more or less in control of the situation? Or are you providing explanations to put a positive spin on conveying your goals? If you responded yes to that last sentence, change Ford’s phrase to “Sometimes explain,” but only when it is essential.

Visualize yourself again, this time determinedly talking about what you and your opponent are doing and saying that will expedite the negotiation’s successful conclusion. Is there a purpose in complaining about the room temperature, bad internet connections, your opponent arriving late? If you ‘complain’ briefly with a solution in mind, go for it. Otherwise, ‘never complain’ will prove useful in maintaining your positive negotiating style.

Cheshire Cat: Nemesis, ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’

Smile as you emulate Alice’s Cheshire Cat by revealing a self-satisfied grin that says I’m in control of myself and what I want to happen, will happen. Truth be told, the Cheshire Cat was pretending, fully aware that life in Wonderland was a series of ridiculous challenges with absurd characters. Perhaps that’s how you’d describe recent negotiations, so you can see how essential a strong sense of humor is to negotiating positively.

The Cheshire Cat had another positive power play. He disappeared slowly, at will, reappearing as he liked. Visualize yourself standing up and leaving the room, neither explaining why nor looking back. When you return, grin confidently.

The Buddha: Enlightened Spiritual Leader

“What we think, we become. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.”

In our world filled with negotiations, The Buddha was truly enlightened.

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

Copyright © 2012 JB Shelton
Copyright ©   2012  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  (May, 2012)