Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 09 2014

Kinder, Gentler Negotiations (March 26 Follow Up)

Jill Formeister
Some people really like negotiations. By a show of hands at the March 26 GMC PCMA Quarterly Education Meeting, it was obvious that most attendees do not. In an interactive session at the Fairmont Chicago Hotel, Shannon Murphy Robinson from Impression Management Professionals shared ideas to change the negotiations atmosphere.  “If we’re to have a good partnership going forward, here are some things to look at to be successful.”

“Our thinking and beliefs often drive negotiations,” she said. Behavior, actions, and word choice are among other things that can have an impact. Research shows:

1.    What is written outweighs whatever you are telling me.
2.    Hierarchy rules.

Think about which beliefs are blocking you, she urged.  “What beliefs do most people have about negotiations? Usually these beliefs are negative. The brain – and your thinking – is the only thing you bring into negotiations.”

Shannon discussed areas of the brain and what neuroscience has discovered about them. “The best decisions are made when we integrate emotions and thought. The brain literally cannot create any trust when there is fear.” Creating the fear response in the other person (pushing a hot button) can make him defensive; this can be done unconsciously.

She described personality styles as they relate to negotiations:

1.    The Connector is people-oriented, is all about stability, and doesn’t like rudeness or abruptness. The Connector does not like conflict.
2.    People with the Recognition style are very energetic, have a large network, like the big picture, and are not as good on detail as other styles. This style likes flexibility and looking at possibilities.
3.    The Producer’s hot button is power. This style wants control, does not like fluff and chitchat, and “wants to get it done. Don’t give a Producer your best offer up front.” Producers usually like to negotiate and might consider negotiations a game.  
4.    The Analyzer will protect accuracy, wants structure and facts, and “plans for what could go wrong.” This style wants to get down to business, so come to the negotiations with accurate facts and data. Be aware that “they will want to ponder the decision,” Shawna said.

“Honor the hot button of each style,” she instructed the audience. “You can usually figure out the style by listening.”

Another consideration is emotional ties – what is really important to a person. Ask yourself, “What are they trying to protect?”

The Three Principles of Outcome Thinking® “will start changing your thinking and thought process,” she said. These principles are:

1.    How can I add value?
2.    Focus on outcome, not the process. For the ideal outcome, focus on both sides’ perspectives.
3.    Think positively from the other person’s perspective.  “Try to put yourself in their shoes.”

“In practice, these will change the atmosphere and open up possibilities. The other person is less likely to go on the defensive because the focus is on them.”

Finally, Shannon described the “Lay of the Land” in negotiations:

1.    Start with a point of agreement.
2.    Recap and share all key facts from both parties.
3.    Give a roadmap for the discussions.  This gives both parties equal control.

After the presentation, she responded to questions about breaking fear. To alleviate your own fear, she suggested thinking about the best outcome and then breathing in and out, imagining breath going down and through your entire body. To break your negotiation partner’s fear when he suddenly goes on the defensive, “Say you’ll step back for a moment; then restate the point in a different way.”