Monday, 22 June 2015

Influencing & Negotiation: Does It Have to be so Calculated?


That’s a question we get a lot on our courses.  Some people seem really uncomfortable with the idea that to be good at influencing and negotiation it all has to be premeditated.

There seems to be such a negative connotation to the idea of being deliberate, pre-planned and indeed, calculated. It’s as though being calculated is ‘bad’ form.

Here at Impact Factory we look at this issue from a far more positive angle that’s all about being considered, thoughtful and communicating with intention.

First off, influencing and negotiating are two different skills, though there’s obviously an overlap.  

Influencing is usually a soft skill; far more subtle, not as obvious and often the people being influenced don’t even realise it’s happening. 

At Impact Factory we talk about the difference between overt and covert influencing.  When it’s overt everyone knows what’s going on, there’s usually a shared agenda, mutual goals can be agreed, there’s a lot of transparency, people tend to be more up front.

When it’s covert you may be conscious of what’s going on but you may be dealing with people who have different agendas and therefore you have to be far more delicate. Then it’s all about understanding where other people are coming from, taking those differing agendas into account and being a lot more accommodating.

Negotiation, on the other hand, is almost a ‘hard’ skill and a strategy is a must. You have to be prepared knowing what your bottom line is, what isn’t negotiable, what is and what you can give away for ‘free’ that looks as though you are conceding a point.

Is that calculated?  You bet it is. 

Our whole focus in terms of negotiation is to make negotiations less stressful.  If you’re someone who doesn’t think you’re good at it, you will be stressed every time you have to enter that arena. 

OK, here’s a good example:  if you know that you usually cave in at some point in your negotiations, pick something that you know will cost very little to surrender and deliberately act as though it has greater importance than it does. Then when you feel yourself caving in, cave in on that one.  This way you haven’t had to change your entire way of being – you will still cave in – but by planning ahead and having a clear strategy in your mind, you can yield in a way that suits you.

Then you can move on to the issues you need addressing.  It’s very rare that someone doesn’t concede something back when you’ve been the first to ‘blink’.

If you start thinking that being calculated, deliberate and premediated is actually good for both ‘sides’ your ability to influence with flair and negotiate with ease will improve enormously.  It will also become a lot more fun because part of you will able to be objective and observe what’s happening instead of being entirely in the middle of the scrum.




By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory

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