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Inner Peaceful Negotiating: Lessening Stress, Increasing Success

By JemmaBlythe Alexander Shelton-Spurr (JB Shelton)

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Your ego, career, finances and health are excellent reasons to seek inner peace when negotiating. Imagine creating a mind and body with mental, emotional and physical resilience.

Heart pounding, inability to concentrate and sleepless nights are associated with stress, anxiety and panic. Peace of mind is associated with bliss, happiness and contentment. You have a choice about how you act and react. By lessening your stress level, you will be mentally and physically able to focus on preparing for and conducting negotiations. And you will have the concentration and energy to increase successful outcomes.

Mind Your Business: Business Your Mind

Your next highly anticipated negotiation may not affect world peace, childhood hunger or economic stability. However, it is vital to remember how important that negotiation is to you:

  • Will the results dramatically change your life?
  • Will a win-win conclusion be sufficient to satisfy you?
  • Will you give more time and energy than necessary to negotiate successfully?

Self-preservation necessitates being positively self-centered, not in an egotistical manner, but by thinking through what you want and don’t want from a negotiation.

Zen and Relaxation Response

In the sixth century BC, Zen Buddhists in China practiced meditation to study their own minds and understand the nature of their thought processes. Their purpose was to lessen stress by coming face-to-face with themselves as individuals in an intimate and direct way. The don’t know mind is a Zen principle designed to let the practitioner maintain ideas while letting go of personal attachment to them

In 1976, a book titled The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, M.D., was destined to translate the Zen practices into 20th century practices and become an international bestseller for decades. Dr. Benson, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and founder of the Mind Body Medical Institute, describes the relaxation response as “a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional resonses to stress. It is the opposite of our fight or flight response.”

Meditation — ancient Zen Buddhism and modern Relaxation Response – share a focus on taking a comfortable position, breathing deeply, and repeating a single word or simple phrase, beginning with a ten-minute session, to evoke a relaxed mental and physical consciousness of the present. Both create a fresh start, a clear and calm attitude, a relaxed body, an ability to prioritize and plan, and a sense of having life under control.

Fear of Fearing

It is only by taking actions that expand and clarify our thoughts and motivate us to take care of ourselves that we can conquer our fears about the unknowns ahead.

Any one of us who has ever faced a sleepless night of negative anticipation can identify with writer Shel Silverstein’s poem Whatif (quoted in part):

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!

What are the lyrics to your personal Whatif song? Your lyrics are those anticipated dilemmas and embarrassing events that likely aren’t destined to happen.

In preparing to create a less stressful negotiation, review your lyrics and make a conscious decision about what is inconsequential and disposable and what is worth careful planning. Whatifs will disturb precious hours of sleep and cause havoc with daytime thoughts as well.

Do What You Do Best

Consider what you do that nobody else does as well before assigning responsibilities to yourself and others. What you do best is often what you enjoy most and what you have a natural talent for achieving.

Work with folks you trust. Don’t be tempted with the I might as well do it myself, since they’ll only screw it up or not follow through.

Amazing Grace

Singing Amazing Grace as a morning ritual gently warms up my voice, gives peace to my thoughts, and reminds me life is bigger than my next negotiation./p>

The phrase When someone said I live in fantasyland, I almost fell off my unicorn makes me smilingly remember not to take myself overly seriously. Your sense of humor is an essential business skill, serving to relax yourself, your team and your opponents.

The inner peace you develop for negotiating will carry through in every aspect of your life. You’ll discover a peaceful self thinks more clearly, communicates more effectively and achieves goals more efficiently.

JB Shelton Photo
JemmaBlythe Alexander Shelton-Spurr (JB Shelton) is a journalist based in Raleigh and Oxford, NC. She writes about children growing up and grownups reinventing themselves. JB teaches Professional Negotiating Skills: Transforming Life’s Challenges into Win-Win Results at Duke University in Durham, NC.  Angel in Your Mirror: Musings from the Curly Mind of JB Shelton-Spurr is available on Contact her at [email protected].

Copyright © 2013 JemmaBlythe Alexander Shelton-Spurr
Copyright ©   2013  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  November 2013