Image by Gerd Altmann
When you have to negotiate a high stakes deal, do you find yourself becoming so anxious you can’t think clearly? When I was president of a company with over a thousand employees, I negotiated many deals in high-stress situations by keeping in mind the following strategies, which served me in my personal life as well. They can be effective no matter what the conflict is about.
Strategy 1: Trust your instincts
During any negotiation, pay attention to cues, however subtle, about what does or doesn’t make individual people feel comfortable during the back-and-forth. That can help you to trust any spontaneous impulses and instincts you have about shifting a conversation when it turns awkward or tense.
Just a few weeks before the scheduled closing of a big deal, the executive vice president of the company we were negotiating with phoned to say they were calling it off. I wondered what had happened. I didn’t want to give up on an excellent potential outcome. I had put a lot of work into the negotiation.
In the moment, I felt frustrated and disappointed, but I compartmentalized my emotions so I could act calmly. I told the executive who had called me that I was sorry to hear that he wanted to end our discussions. I said, “Some deals are meant to happen and some not. What will you do now?”
We talked a bit longer, but before we hung up, I asked casually, “Just out of curiosity, why did you decide to cancel the deal?” He told me, I asked him if I could check into the problem, and as it turned out, I came back to him with information that convinced him to come back to the negotiating table.
It ended up being one of the most lucrative deals I ever made. However, it wouldn’t have happened had I not trusted my instinct to act casual and to keep the friendly conversation going when told the deal was off.
Strategy 2: Aim for a mutually beneficial deal
I like win-win situations, and fortunately, that’s often what I was able to bring about in a negotiation. Although I was a business executive who had some different goals from that of our union workers, I respected that the union representatives I negotiated with were trying to achieve the best results for their members. The members seemed to respect us, too.
I was not trying to turn us into winners and them into losers. I believe that led to better outcomes than if I’d only been interested in getting as many concessions as possible regardless of how that would affect the union workers. Do you try too hard to get a better deal than the person you’re negotiating with, or do you aim for mutually beneficial deals and let go of the need to feel you came out on top?
Strategy 3: Relativize the outcome
One way to look at deal-making is to consider whether the outcome will make a difference five years down the road. Usually, it won’t—and remembering that can ease some of the anxiety and stress related to negotiating. New opportunities will keep appearing.
Strategy 4: Remain loose and mindful
I trained in martial arts for years. In a judo tournament or karate match, you might see that someone is a little off-balance, overly rigid, or inflexible about their strategy. Remaining mindfully present in the moment, concentrating on what is happening rather than what might happen, makes it easier to see openings for winning, opportunities that might otherwise be hidden.
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Tightening up, becoming anxious about the past (“Did I make a mistake?”) or the future (“Will I screw up?”) makes you more likely to negotiate badly. My martial arts teachers taught l me to remain loose, continue remaining loose, and then tighten up to take forceful, focused action before becoming loose again. It’s a concept known as “kime” (KEY-may), and it prevents you from wasting your energy or being too focused on what might go wrong.
If you’ve been taught that negotiating well means adopting a “crush your opponent” mindset, you might be getting in your own way and not coming to the best outcome possible. And if your fierce attitude frustrates and upsets people who are willing to make a deal with you that you would find sufficiently satisfying, you’re causing unnecessary stress for all involved in the negotiation. That can happen when you are so afraid of losing and striking a bad deal that you become too anxious to think clearly and negotiate well.
No matter how high the stakes may seem, you might want to take a breath and approach the conversation about a conflict differently, without fear getting in your way.
Copyright 2021 by Carl Greer. All Rights Reserved.
The Necktie and The Jaguar
The Necktie and The Jaguar: A memoir to help you change your story and find fulfillment
by Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD
Compelling reading for anyone seeking the courage to make more conscious choices and live fully awake, The Necktie and The Jaguar is a memoir with thought-provoking questions that encourage self-exploration. Author Carl Greer—businessman, philanthropist, and retired Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist—offers an illuminating roadmap to individuation and personal transformation.
Writing about his spiritual practices and reflecting on his vulnerabilities, he tells of honoring his longings for purpose and meaning, journeying to transpersonal realms, reinventing his life, and devoting himself to service to others while living with deep respect for Pachamama, Mother Earth. His memoir is an inspirational testament to the power of self-discovery. As Carl Greer learned, you don’t have to feel trapped in a story someone else has written for you.
For more info and/or to order this book, click here. Also available as an Audiobook and as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Carl Greer, PhD, PsyD, is a retired clinical psychologist and Jungian analyst, a businessman, and a shamanic practitioner, author, and philanthropist, funding over 60 charities and more than 850 past and current Greer scholars. He has taught at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and been on staff at the Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being.
The shamanic work he does is drawn from a blend of North American and South American indigenous trainings and is influenced by Jungian analytical psychology. He has trained with Peruvian shamans and through Dr. Alberto Villoldo’s Healing the Light Body School, where he has been on staff. He has worked with shamans in South America, the United States, Canada, Australia, Ethiopia, and Outer Mongolia. He is the best-selling, award-winning author of Change Your Story, Change Your Life and Change the Story of Your Health. His new book, a memoir titled The Necktie and The Jaguar.
Learn more at CarlGreer.com.