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Negotiate the positive

Even the most confident executive can falter when it comes to doing deals. Negotiation expert. Clive Rich answers the four key questions geared to achieving success in the boardroom.

How do I overcome negotiating anxieties?

Many people do not enjoy negotiating at all. They become very anxious about it and feel they are going to fail. Often this manifests as a "losing" attitude. This kind of attitude may well be rooted in previous experiences which have created a "filter", an automatic cue which feeds them this negative state of mind whenever the prospect of negotiating arises. Unfortunately these attitudes tend to be self-fulfilling. If you think you are going to lose out in a negotiation then you will bid unambitiously, you will look hesitant or nervous and the other side will pick up these cues and push you harder.

So what can you do if you have this kind of unhelpful attitude? The good news is that we can change our "filter" if we want to, from a negative one like "losing" to a more confident outlook. Some of this can be done by asking ourselves questions designed to challenge the language around these negative filters. Do we really always fail in a negotiation? Can we not think of any time when we have been successful? What do we mean by fail? How do we know we failed? This kind of self questioning can create a more realistic perspective on our previous experiences.

Equally we can gradually shift ourselves to a more confident point of view with a good self-talk. We can tell ourselves that although it’s difficult to change our state of mind we are going to give it a go on this occasion. We can remind ourselves that this time we are well-prepared and have a good team around us. We can think back to the last negotiation that went well and remember what that felt like. We can say to ourselves that even if the negotiation doesn’t work out that doesn’t mean we have failed. We can say we really believe in our product or service and we know it makes a difference. We can say that we now feel optimistic we are going to improve our negotiation this time – whatever the result.

By the time we get to the end of a sequence like this we will have incrementally improved our negotiating attitude to the point where we feel more confident.

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