I recently read a blog post entitled, How To Make Decisions Like a Leader in 2019 appearing on the Leadership Freak website. While the article talks in terms of making decisions as a leader, its strategies apply equally well to any negotiation.
For example, first and foremost, the author notes that it is important to “…decide where you want to go, before you begin the race.” (Id.) This is another way of saying – prepare, prepare, prepare. Do NOT wing it under any circumstance but, rather, have a strategy, a game plan before even walking into the negotiation.
A second point made is about the fatigue factor. It has been well documented that while the brain makes up about 2% of one’s body weight, it uses up 20% of the glucose. Our brain will burn about 320 calories alone on a typical day.
Thus, as a negotiation wears on, our glucose gets depleted which leads to grumpiness and poor decision making. The post mentions a study showing that “… a parole board’s decisions dropped from 65% favorable to nearly 0% over a short time span of decision-making.” (Id.)
There are ways to combat this glucose depletion. The first and most obvious is to eat snacks to increase the glucose level. The others include taking a break, taking a short walk, getting up and stretching and taking a nap (if you can swing it in the middle of a mediation!) (Id.)
Other tips for better decision making include taking a few minutes to meditate and indulge for a few minutes in some deep breathing from the diaphragm by breathing in to the count of three, holding it for a second or two and then slowly letting it out to a count of five. (Id.) This is especially useful when the mediator has given you bad news that upsets you greatly.
The blog’s author suggests that you do not give yourself an escape hatch as you will surely take it. I am not sure that I agree with this. It is always good to have a “walk away” decision in your pocket; that is, to decide at what point will you walk away. Some call it a reservation amount- the lowest or highest amount you will agree to before walking away. Others suggest that not only do you figure out your BATNA or Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement before starting any negotiation but that you should also reflect on your WATNA or your Worst Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement as well.
Sometimes, it is best to just forget about the decision for a few minutes. (Id.) Studies have shown that sometimes the “ah ha!” moment comes precisely when we are not thinking about it but rather about other things. In the middle of doing something entirely different, the “light bulb” goes off and we found the solution! Eureka! We are most creative precisely when we are not thinking!
Another bit of advice comes down to active listening: listen more than you speak. In the words of the blog post, “Be a learner more than a knower.” (Id.) Don’t fool yourself into thinking you are an expert. Listen, listen, listen to what the other parties have to say. And don’t necessarily trust your gut or intuition. It can be wrong more times than right. (Id.)
In deciding what to do, think about what is at stake and who will be impacted. And, just as importantly, forget about sunk cost, or the idea that you must continue because of all the time, money and effort thus far expended; it will be wasted if you stop now. You will probably be “throwing good money after bad” if you continue along the downward spiraling path. (Id.)
The next time you are about to negotiate, think about these issues. Planning and preparing will make all the difference in the world.
…. Just something to think about.
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