I’m considered a rather insistent fellow. I don’t easily take “no” as a definitive response. It depends on the issue and the available time, 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 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 you only have what you have negotiated in life. How your life looks results from the negotiations – or the lack thereof. Whatever you accept as given – may it be a behavior, a product, a service, or a price – everything ends up limiting your options. Fear of non-conformity, fear of the unknown, and even a 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 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 my clients: what appears natural for me may seem like a threshold for others who have not built these abilities for themselves. I like to think I have benefited from my negotiation skills more personally than in my professional life. Also, most people I know DO have the ability to look for offers and negotiate – the contrast is given by those who don’t have this ability.
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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 prefer to live an unnegotiated life – and to work unnecessarily to pay for it, just to avoid the pain of getting out of their comfort zone. 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 correct 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 to spot the right person to do a specific job, much more than we believe. We just have to train this potential into abilities.
4. People usually don’t wait for your indecisions. A lack of answers will be interpreted as how 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. Unfortunately, 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 most people don’t appreciate persuasion is that it requires patience. The “I want results, NOW!” culture costs more than it promises to deliver. Influence doesn’t rhyme with short-term.
8. Most people don’t realize that to fulfill their most basic needs – they have to develop for survival. The distress provoked by the necessity of working a lot to maintain the place to stay, food, and transportation ends up being a trauma from which nothing is learned. Those who refuse to develop end up feeling blocked and continue the same processes repeatedly. 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 – they 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. My time is precious, so I plan on everything important to me, including meetings with friends. Therefore, I carefully choose the people I spend 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 with available time (for what?), you better search for people with no plans or goals, which would instead work for others’ dreams. They are the most likely to act responsively.
In the end, I have a question: “If I ask for this, what is the best thing to happen”?
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