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"Deals that both sides want to keep"

Between Brexit and the "ultimate deal maker" that is the American President, negotiation is having something of a heyday in our popular consciousness currently. If you think about it though you don't have to be Minister for Exiting the European Union for negotiation to be a daily feature. We are constantly negotiating in our personal lives, work and organisations; negotiation is a feature of all our relationships and communities. Unfortunately negotiation is not emerging from it's time in the press limelight with the best of reputations, or as a constructive and positive part of any strategy for change and collaboration.

Which is why it was great to hear Natalie Reynolds speak at NPW Live earlier in the month. Here was the CEO of Advantage Spring, an internationally successful negotiator and author talking about negotiation as a collaborative exercise, acknowledging the limitations of the popular rhetoric of negotiating in terms of, "strength", "being difficult" and as an aggressive and adversarial act.

Natalie's talk reminded me of the learning I did some years ago now on the SF Works Art of Negotiation course. Led by Mark McKergrow and Shakyakumara it was here I first learnt the two things I have held on to most strongly since about negotiating:

  • "A successful negotiation is a deal both sides WANT to keep"

  • "The quality of the relationship at the end of the negotiation matters"

Through the MAGIC negotiation model I learnt about mapping and understanding the terrain of the negotiation as it is for both your own and the other party, and the importance of focusing on the end outcome to be open to new routes to achieve it. I.e. being 'solution-focused' about what you are achieving.

This process of learning about the wants, needs and desires of the other party in any negotiation was at the heart of Natalie's take on success. While launching a new development concept, "Collaborative Competitiveness", Natalie discussed forthcoming research highlighting interesting information on whether women were, "better or worse" at negotiating than men. Turns out that what actually mattered to success is how much time was spent learning about the other party, and that more women spent more time doing this.

Negotiation and learning about the desires and motivations of others is a constant theme in coaching work. Be it personal relationships, difficult relationships with colleagues, managers or employees at work or navigating life transitions and their impact on others we can all benefit from more time and skills for "standing in their shoes" to help us achieve our goals.

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