Dynamic Leadership 3.1 – Negotiate the Best Outcome

Somebody once said “Negotiation is not a weakness it’s a power”. I agree with this sentiment.

Madam Area Director, Mr President, Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests.

In this speech I am meant to talk about a Negotiation I have participated in or one that I will participate in. This was an interesting project for me to research as negotiation is something we all do from a very young age and is a life skill we all need, but, it is a skill that seems to be glossed over most of the time in peoples private lives. When you think about negotiations, you normally think about work related situations, quite frequently contracts. I know some workplaces run negotiation courses, but for the most part, outside of work, it is ignored. Alternatively, you may possibly think about various international diplomatic talks and agreements, in particular Peace Accords.

“Negotiation and discussion are the greatest weapons we have for promoting peace and development” – Nelson Mandela.

I will just quickly run through the four main negotiation styles and outcomes. The main styles are accommodation, compromise, competitive and collaborative. To use the accommodation style, you must be willing to give information and make concessions. Very useful when you need to mend or maintain relationships. When you use compromise, you are meeting your counterparts halfway and all parties make concessions, this is most effective when there are time constraints or when relationships are positive. The competitive approach can come across as aggressive and strategic, and is most effective if an agreement is needed quickly or there are limited elements to the agreement. There is always a clear winner and loser with this style. The collaborative style involves brainstorming to gather ideas for solutions that will suit everyone. This is most effective for developing and maintaining positive relationships, but, it can be time consuming.

The four main type of Negotiation outcomes are, are Win-Win, Win-Lose, Compromise and when to walk away. Win – Win means that both sides are in a better position after a negotiation. In win – lose, one party wins at the others expense. The compromise outcome means that when an agreement is reached every party has had to made concessions. Sometimes, you need to know when to walk away and end the negotiations. 

Marvyn Gaye said “Negotiation means getting the best of your opponent”.

I used to work in a job that involved negotiating with other parties, both sides would come to the negotiations from very entrenched emotional positions and they had ZERO intention of giving way one little millimetre. When they walked in, you could see that that from every pore in their body seeped an attitude of ‘No way, no today, not any day!’. Their main objective was to simultaneously look like they were taking the higher ground, but, in reality, a lot of them just wanted to be as awkward as possible to the other side and to win. However, you could still normally find some level of compromise with them. This I found could be done by keeping things friendly, casual and low tension, and by giving people time, space and respect. I also discovered that if you acknowledged their pain and point of view, and really listened to their story, asking pertinent questions and being genuinely interested on a human level, they would relax a tiny a little bit. 

They didn’t want to be there, and were (usually) sick of the drama, stress and constant battle. It may just have been another day in the office for me, but for them, this was their life, their future, it was crucial that they got the result they wanted, or as close to it as possible. Sometimes, just getting people away from their ‘Committee” of friends, family and pub based advisors, did the person in question the world of good. With all that noise, and all those contradicting opinions it is nearly impossible to know what to do. I always thought it was just a question of compromise, but, now thanks to this project, I see that there were also collaborative and accommodating elements involved, as everybody in those negotiations wanted a result, and there really wasn’t an option to walk away, and a solution was imperative. In my more cynical moments, I  used to say that it was a success if everyone was equally miserable at the end of negotiations. Clearly, I should have used the word happy, but people rarely are in those situations.

“Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another thing” – Carrie Fisher

However, apart from these examples of negotiations, the truly everyday negotiations that you will go through for the entirety of your life are the ones in your head. “I want to go for a walk, but, it’s cold/wet/windy, I’ll walk for longer tomorrow”, “I’ll contact ‘x’, but, they could be busy, I’ll leave it until the weekend”. Do you use phrases like ‘just 5 more minutes’ or ‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ or ‘just one more’, or ‘if I do this now, I’ll do that later’? If so you are negotiating yourself out of doing something, that you probably ought to be doing. These are concepts we use from a very young age, even as children we ask our parents ‘just 5 more minutes before I go to bed/do my homework/brush my teeth. Words like ‘just’, because’, later/tomorrow, maybe’ are all excuses. This is when you are using self negotiation as an avoidance technique. It can stop you meeting your potential or hit your own goals. In the words of an exasperated Nike Executive, JUST DO IT!

“Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate” – JFK

In conclusion, in this speech, I have briefly explained the styles and outcomes of negotiations. I have referred to a previous job I held that involved negotiations and how this speech has taught me some of the elements that I was unintentionally used during those situations. I have also touched on self negotiation and how you can use it as a way of giving yourself an excuse to not to do something that you probably ought to. 

Thank you Madam Area Director, Mr President, Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters and welcome guests.

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