Influencing, Not Convincing?

What is negotiation? What makes a good and respected negotiator? How do you define a successful negotiation? When faced with a situation in which you need someone to help you get what you want, when you want or have to bring people together to collaborate, when a conflict needs to be managed, any time you require others to achieve the desired result, there are several strategies you can use.

The mindset with which the other party is considered is extremely important. This mindset follows the similar underlying premise as Nelson Mandela did, when he pointed out during his life-long struggle that if you want to make peace with your enemy, you need to work with your enemy. Then they become your partner, someone with whom you can work. This negotiation approach views your counterpart as your opportunity. This very specific mindset is linked to being an excellent and respected negotiator and will be explained. Realizing that your counterpart is your best opportunity (partner) for reaching a deal will have noticeable effects both on how the encounters take place and on negotiated outcomes.

The most important indicator of a good negotiation is its lasting result. Negotiation is often viewed as a struggle, a metaphorical wrestling match that involves scoring points, winning, ‘good guy/bad guy’ tactics, struggling, manipulating, even damaging the other, at times to the detriment of the relationship. These tactics endanger any long-term collaboration or partnership. What if there were another way to approach negotiation? A solution-focused approach? An opportunity-based approach? A more positive, respectful and enjoyable approach? What if negotiating was something which you could actually look forward to?

Negotiation is an art, the art of exploring how each party can get what they want, where each party explores the conditions under which they could say yes to the other party’s requests and needs, while ensuring that their own needs are met.

The world abounds with examples of – at times spectacular – negotiations that have failed, peace agreements that have never been put into effect, business deals that have never actually happened. Consider a change of paradigm. How would it feel if you had the certainty that you needed the other party to achieve your aim, an aim that was better reached together than alone? If you considered them as partners?

If you knew deep inside yourself that the key to success lay with working with the other rather than against that person, your whole attitude would change.

To convince someone is to ‘make somebody believe that something is true’, and comes from the Latin word convincere, from con (with) and vincer (conquer), so to overcome or defeat in argument. You use arguments that are solid and meaningful to you in order to convince the other to change their mind, to think like you do. Without necessarily realizing it, you are trying to influence them to ‘stop being them’, i.e. different from you, so as to become like you.

When you convince someone, you put forward what is important to you and what has a value for you; you bring in your arguments. You seek to influence the other so that what is important to you becomes important to them.

How do most people react when faced with, for instance, a seller trying to convince them that their product or service is the best and that they really should buy it? The more the seller tries to argue their point, insist and sell, the more people have a tendency to turn away, to refuse the purchase, to block. This is often in reaction to feeling coerced or harassed rather than from lack of interest in the product being sold. Most people resent being told how they should feel and what they should do, particularly when faced with convincing reasons that do not come from them