Before meeting with the other party, you may need to get in alignment with your internal team. Your internal team certainly includes your boss and may also include members of other departments that support sales, like marketing, finance, and contracting. These people won’t usually tell you specifically what to say in the negotiation, but they will have a say—sometimes the deciding say—in the terms you’re able to offer. Their guidance will be helpful because they know the organizations’ priorities, areas of flexibility, and hard limits, often better than you will.
As you prepare to sit down with them, be advised that your internal team members are most likely already in their egos. They want to win, to get the maximum they can. Marketing will claim that your product/solution is better than anybody else’s so it’s worth an extreme price. Finance has set a budget that might not be realistic for the environment in which you compete. Your boss is prioritizing looking good for his boss by closing an aggressive deal. It’s all about them.
It’s also a common assumption for your internal team to believe that you can get literally everything they want—and that you can do it in one meeting. Because they don’t usually negotiate in their own work tasks, they tend to think negotiation is easy and don’t understand why you can’t deliver better deals. Their egos tell them that they could get any deal they want, giving them a false sense of superiority and making them want to distrust you.
Because these team members are in their egos, they will do and say a lot of things that will make it harder for you to prepare well. They may recommend coming to the table with a very extreme offer, not realizing that doing so will likely upset the other side and add a lot of time to the negotiation. They may try to avoid giving you a hard limit for what you can offer, either out of fear that you’ll just offer that amount to the other side to close the deal quickly, or because they can’t afford to walk away and will take any deal you can strike. They may waffle on giving you clear priorities because they don’t realize (or care) that getting absolutely everything you want is like a snow leopard—it exists, but it’s so rare that only a very few people living have ever seen one.
Using the C4UTM system to plan to Handle Emotions: Yours and Theirs
As we now know very clearly, negotiation has nothing to do with being rational. Negotiations are, most of the time, ego-driven. No matter how prepared you are skill-wise or how much effort you are putting in to be logical, emotions will come up (yours and theirs) and make rational thought really hard to hold onto. So, getting ready for when emotions come up on either side of the table will be key to successful preparation.
The best way to be ready to manage emotions during calls or meetings is to include mindfulness in your preparation. Not only will practicing the C4UTM system ahead of time set you up to use it during upcoming meetings, but many of the same emotions that come up during the meetings will also come up during your preparation.
Practicing managing your emotions starts with experiencing and understanding those emotions in a safe space where there are no real stakes. The best way to experience emotions that could show up in a meeting way is to explore them in the preparation with what-if scenarios:
What if they threaten to walk away if you don’t agree with them?
What if they are upset or angry, and they yell at you?
What if you can’t get what you want?
What if they reject your proposal, and you have to ask your boss for additional flexibility?
What other scenarios could trigger your emotions?
As you experience each emotion, allow yourself to be fully aware of everything that is coming up inside of you (C1). It is crucial here that you don’t stay in your head and rationalize what you feel. Be curious (C2) about these emotions to understand where they are coming from:
- What emotions are coming up around this scenario?
- What other aspects of your life are triggering the same emotions?
- What else (e.g. judgments, other emotions or sensations) is coming up around these emotions?
If you are experiencing challenges connecting with answers, you might want to ask the same questions about a specific situation in your personal life. You might encounter less resistance this way.
Connect with compassion (C3) as there’s nothing wrong with you for being triggered or feeling an emotion you don’t want. Remember, we are all emotional creatures. Whatever is coming up is okay. Judging or criticizing yourself will only move you further away from making real contact with that part of yourself.
Planning in advance to handle emotions will allow you to be your best in the moment.
Now look at the emotion from the C4 step, and determine what you can change when it comes up.
- What can you learn about experiencing that emotion?
- Who says that is the way you are and can’t change?
- What is your history with that emotion and what would it take to gain some freedom from it?
- What if you could minimize your instinctual emotional response and be in the moment, in control of the situation, and able to pivot without your ego reacting?
When you become aware of your emotional triggers ahead of time, you can give yourself tools and tactics to handle them before you actually need to. This sets you up to control your ego and emotions rather than letting them control you in the moments where that control matters most. And that works whether the emotions are on your side, the other side, or both.
Being mindful and in control of your emotions is the ability to be your best and deliver better outcomes—without your ego dictating your behavior.
Excerpt from Mindful NEGOtiation: Becoming More Aware in the Moment, Conquering Your Ego and Getting Everyone What They Really Want by Gaëtan Pellerin