We received this account from a participant on a recent course who was initially reluctant about attending but gained significant new insights and confidence in her ability to negotiate. We think it’s worth sharing…
Combative, confrontational and uncomfortable are the words that came to mind as I walked into my first day of negotiating skills training. I was looking forward to it as much as sorting my tax return; something that just had to be done. I felt sure that I would be surrounded by high powered executives, all of whom would be keen to prove their assertiveness and ability to get their own way. I felt sure I would be ‘put through my paces’ and have to pretend to be someone I wasn’t. How I hate conflict - and role-play. Of course, I would need to go through both.
But as with most challenges we take on outside our comfort zone, I was working on the wrong assumptions. The people who had enrolled in the course were understated, keen to learn and empathetic. Apart from the fact they introduced themselves including their job titles, you wouldn't really know these people were leaders in their respective fields.
Surprisingly, when it came to participating in the case study scenarios they were just as nervous as me. One other participant even whispered how they had felt anxious about what to wear, knowing they would watch themselves back on the video replays that she knew were coming.
After three days of navigating our way through a series of lectures and participating in actual negotiations, taking on a variety of different scenarios, my main learnings were:
- You really can find your way through potentially difficult situations without conflict - or needing to be forceful or difficult. By listening carefully and working out what the other parties need or want, you can work through considered steps, taking time out when required and come to agreed outcomes.
- You don’t need to have conversations that involve thumping tables or raised voices.
- People on the other side of the table are often willing to come your way – if you make it appealing enough by making concessions.
- Shy or introverted people can make top negotiators. One of the guys on the course hardly said a word, but somehow managed to always get a ‘win-win’ outcome. His ability to remain on task, listen intently, combined with his sharp thinking allowed him to make negotiating look easy.
- Each person gains their own unique insights and understandings in the course offered.
So, from someone who joined the course reluctantly, I’m here to say negotiating really is about continual development of skills as well as understanding the challenges of the other party. Additionally, the tutors can offer unique insights that will truly ‘transform the way you negotiate’.