I’m considered a rather insistent fellow. I don’t easily take “no” as a definitive response. It really depends on the issue and the time I have available, but in most cases, I insist, until I obtain the answer I wish. I noticed the main difference does not only start from my attitude but mostly from my negotiation skills.
I would even be mean and say I can’t work in a team with someone who doesn’t know how to negotiate, because, in order to be able to collaborate with the people I’m working with, I need to rely on them. How can I rely on someone who takes the first “no” as a “stop”? Somehow, the lack of ability to negotiate ends up influencing anyone’s life. The uncanny conclusion is that in life, you only have what you negotiated for. The way your life looks is the result of the negotiations – or the lack thereof. Whatever you accept as given – may it be a behavior, a product, a service, a price – everything ends up limiting your options. Fear of non-conformity, fear of the unknown and even lack of courage all contribute to making each one’s life cheaper and cheaper.
Writing tens of articles and a book about negotiation, I have confronted myself with the question: how much do I really know about the topic? Do I consider myself an expert in this area? All the things I wrote seem so natural to me. And then the answer came to me from experience and from my clients: what seems natural for me may seem as a threshold for others, who have not built for themselves these abilities. I like to think I have benefited from my negotiation skills more in my personal life than in my professional life. Also, most people I know DO have the ability to look for offers and negotiating – the contrast is given by those who don’t have this ability.
In 2003, when I started to get in touch with personal development systems, I was in a rush to share all the wonderful knowledge I was getting with everyone. Now, I find out with sadness that there is a gap. A huge gap. Some people actually prefer to live an unnegotiated life – and to work unnecessarily to pay for it, just to avoid the pain of getting out of the comfort area. The comfort they dream of is getting much more highly paid, unfortunately.
I was involved this week in a project which required a lot of persuasion on my part. Much more than I was able to deliver, to my shame. But I would like to share with you some of the learning I had & the conclusions I drew:
1. When following a target, it’s not as important to push for a positive response as it is to correctly identify the right public: who, from the audience, is your target
2. Timing is more important than a lot of other factors. There is a right time to approach persons for persuasion, and there is a wrong time. Getting it right might be the difference between winning and losing
3. Each of us has the potential for spotting the right person to do a certain job, much more than we believe. We just have to train this potential into abilities.
4. People usually don’t wait for your indecisions. Lack of answers will be interpreted the way the listener is best suited. If you don’t choose, you lose.
5. There will always be people who get better deals than you and people who get worse deals than you. If you want to make it into the first category, the first step is wondering “how do they do it?”.
6. There is a difference between acceptance and resignation. Acceptance doesn’t even mean approval. It seems some still don’t get that. For most Romanians, without a culture of negotiation, usually to “accept” means “to surrender”.
7. One of the inconvenient reasons for which most people don’t appreciate persuasion is the fact it requires patience. The culture of “I want results, NOW!” ends up costing more than what it promises to deliver. Persuasion doesn’t rhyme with short-term.
8. Most people don’t realize in order to fulfill their most basic needs – for survival – they have to develop. The distress provoked by the necessity of working a lot for maintaining the place to stay, food and transportation end up being a trauma out of which nothing is learned. Those who refuse to develop, end up feeling blocked, and continue the same processes again and again. Those who embrace the change realize that developing professional development skills is not a form of intellectual stimulation and education – but an issue of survival – may end up learning something: that life without learning is death, in the current economic context.
9. When I was younger, I used to promote the idea one can learn from anyone. While I still believe that, I believe more in negotiating for my time now. My time is precious, so I plan on everything which is important to me, including meetings with friends. Therefore, I carefully choose the people I spend the time with. Generally, it’s better to spend more time with the people you aspire to become like. Everyone is the average of the 6 people (s)he spends the most time with. So… I use my right to say “no”. I know people don’t usually fight it.
10. If you search for people who have available time (for what?), better search for people with no plans, no goals, which would rather work for others’ goals. They are the most likely to act responsively.
In the end, I have a question for you: “If I ask for this, what is the best thing that might happen”?
Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, 2011-present