We do not all have the same personality. In a negotiation—in any situation where you seek to influence another—it is very useful both to understand how others expect people to treat them and to do something constructive with that understanding. With any luck, the other person is doing the same thing for you. All this is an extension of the ideas of rapport.
Changing your behaviour—or, more generally, your attitude—to suit different people is perfectly normal. It doesn’t change you as an individual, nor is it manipulative, if it is done with the right intent.
In terms of influencing and negotiation, in a system of interaction (ie, between individual human beings) the part of the system with the greatest flexibility in its behaviours will always control the system. Or, put another way: the person with the most flexibility of thought, feeling, language and behaviour always has the edge over others.
If what you’re doing isn’t working and you’re stuck for alternatives, consider the opposite.
People rarely achieve things they don’t intend to achieve. Setting an intention to do something—indeed, setting an intention to do it well—is the first step to actually doing it well. So, to be flexible, decide that you will be. If this is an unusual approach for you, please consider setting an intention that you’ll be flexible on this one.
Often we believe we have to get things or take them from other people if we are to succeed. We often mask our taking under the guise of giving. This usually causes the other person either to resist our giving, or to accept it, but to shy away from what we want to take in return.
When we demand reciprocity, we are not really giving, but giving in order to get something. This is always interpreted by the other person as a hidden demand and people don’t like demands being made of them. The surreptitious nature of the demand, and its insincerity, just make the situation worse.
Attachment to the outcome is a more precise way of saying ‘need for a particular thing to happen’.
When we have an attachment to an outcome, that attachment is communicated to others, however subconsciously. They feel let down—not included. We are not applying criteria to the choice which include the needs of others; instead we are making it about what we want.
In the same way that an attachment to being right makes it about ourselves – and in the same way that giving with an expectation that we will get something back makes it about ourselves – so, if we have an attachment to the outcome of a decision, we risk not making the decision that is in the best interests of the enterprise.
It can be difficult to let go of things—expectations, attachments to outcomes—without having something to put in their place. Consider adopting a stance of being curious about what will happen, about what people will do. An approach of curiosity allows you to be receptive to circumstances, imaginative about making suggestions and interested in what is going to happen next. These surely are desirable attributes in anyone seeking to influence or negotiate.
And, if adopting a curious approach seems unlikely to work, we ask that you are just curious about whether such as approach might be useful!
by Jeremy Marchant . © 2011 Jeremy Marchant Limited . We acknowledge, and are grateful for, the contribution of Jeff Allen and Ian Haugh . uploaded 8 may 2015 . image: Free images