To Be a Better Negotiator, You Have to Learn About Yourself

Written by Jay McDonald on .

Sometimes, we get in our own way, blindly sabotaging the relationships, communications, and negotiations we have with others, simply because we want to avoid the tough conversations we know we need to have. We may live in worlds of our own ambitions or dreams, or be insensitive to the inputs and feelings of others. If we learn to “win from within” – to deal with our own internal, competing thoughts – we can become better and happier people in the process.

We deal with negotiations of all kinds every day. Some negotiations are minor and personal – negotiations with our spouses, children, co-workers, clients, suppliers, or business partners. Some negotiations are major – sales, mergers, acquisitions, or job opportunities.

Learning to Understand Our Performance Gaps

Recently, I’ve enjoyed reading a great book called Winning From Within: a Breakthrough Method for Leading, Living, and Lasting Change by Erica Ariel Fox. In this book, Fox helps readers navigate high stake interactions – from business deals, client calls, and team meetings, to family arguments, landlord disputes, and parent/teacher conferences – while improving results.

Fox’s premise, with which I agree, is that our conversations and negotiations with others are often blocked by our own constant subconscious negotiations with our inner selves. These inner negotiations create “performance gaps” – disparities between what we know we should do and what we actually do. Understanding and resolving our own internal performance gaps allows us to become better communicators and negotiators, which enables us to become part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

The Four Basic Forces

Fox says that inside each of us are four “internal negotiators” whose competing claims and beliefs lead to our internal performance gaps. Learning to understand and negotiate with these “big four” internal forces gives us the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.

The “big four” internal negotiators are:

  1. The Dreamer – In business terms, your dreamer is your inner CEO. The dreamer creates possibilities, sets strategic visions, and gives directions, focusing its attention on what it wants and doesn’t want. The dreamer draws power from your intuition and is skilled at innovation.
  2. The Thinker – The thinker is your inner CFO. It clarifies perspectives, analyzes data, and manages risks. It focuses on opinions and ideas and is driven by reason and analysis.
  3. The Lover – Your inner VP of human resources, the lover cares about people, feels emotions, and manages relationships. The lover focuses on how people feel and their levels of trust. It is skilled at relationships.
  4. The Warrior – As your inner COO, the warrior catalyzes performance, takes action, and reaches goals. It draws power from your will to achieve, and it is skilled at accomplishments. The warrior speaks hard truths, holds our ground, and takes action.

The Three Internal Directors

We all have four basic negotiators at work in us, but Fox also describes three “internal directors” who monitor and guide our basic negotiators, much like the directors of any organization.

  1. The Lookout – This is the independent part of your subconscious that acts as your internal voice, helping to balance the competing needs of your “big four”.
  2. The Captain – This is your presence, receiving and filtering messages from your lookout, your senses, and your environment. The captain helps you draw on your values, wisdom, character, and experience.
  3. The Voyager – This is the part of you that seeks adventure and learns by gaining new life experiences.

In order to understand ourselves and our dominant inner negotiators, we need to take a good, personal look at ourselves. While we may lean one way or another, we must learn to utilize all the parts of our inner selves in order to be effective in our relationships with others.

The Benefits of Learning Who We Are

As we learn more about our inner negotiators and directors, we’ll become better communicators. We will become better listeners, and see into not only our own needs, but also the needs and wants of those close to us. Aligning those visions, desires, and directions will lead to more satisfying and happier results. If each of us can become better acquainted with our own inner “big four,” as well as with the “big four” of those close to us, we can create positive attitudes, productivity, and happiness which will enrich our lives and the lives of those with whom we interact daily.

Jay McDonald

With a unique breadth of knowledge earned through decades of hands- on experience, Jay is recognized as a strategic visionary whose high energy, quick wit and straight talk combined with a passion for mentoring others allows him to help executives achieve greater results and enjoy more rewarding personal lives. Connect with Jay McDonald on Google+

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