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The Mental Game Of Negotiating: Know All The Tricks, Make Your Plans, And Be Mentally Tough    Do you enjoy negotiating? Or do you see negotiating as being a necessary evil? Do you enjoy the back-and-forth and competitive flavor of a spirited negotiation? Or does conflict make you uncomfortable? Are you able to withstand the ambiguity and uncertain nature of negotiating? Or do you seek secure predictability and fast closure? Do certain negotiating personalities irritate you and put you off your game? Do you view certain negotiating gambits as being unethical? Do you see long negotiations as a waste of time? When you see people playing mind games during negotiations, do you wish they could just be honest and straightforward? This article gives you five mental strategies to help you become a wiser, more savvy and more potent negotiator.    1551 words.
The Mental Game Coach, Peak Performance Playbook

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The Mental Game Of Negotiating

Know All The Tricks, Make Your Plans, And Be Mentally Tough

Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California

During a negotiation, it would be wise not to take anything personally. If you leave personalities out of it, you will be able to see opportunities more objectively.
Brian Koslow

The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.
Howard Baker

He who has learned to disagree without being disagreeable has discovered the most valuable secret of a diplomat.
Robert Estabrook

There are some men who, in a 50-50 proposition, insist on getting the hyphen, too.
Lawrence J. Peter

You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with whatever the world can throw at you.
Brian Tracy

That which does not kill me only makes me stronger.
Frederick Nietzsche

Do you enjoy negotiating? Or do you see negotiating as being an unpleasant task? Do you enjoy the back-and-forth and competitive flavor of a spirited negotiation? Or does conflict make you uncomfortable? Are you able to withstand the ambiguity and uncertain nature of negotiating? Or do you seek secure predictability and fast closure? Do certain negotiating personalities irritate you and put you off your game? Do you view certain negotiating gambits as being unethical, or distasteful? Do you see long negotiations as a waste of time? When you see people playing mind games during negotiations, do you wish they could just be honest and straightforward?

Many people view negotiating as a necessary evil, and they go into negotiations with a negative mindset. They wish they werenít there. They wish things would come to an end quickly. This mental disengagement takes them out of the game immediately. Probably before they even arrived at the negotiating table, they werenít too keen about planning ahead for the negotiation, so that made them even less well prepared. This mental state of avoidance and dislike and wishing they were somewhere else combines to make them a sitting duck for even an average negotiator. A sharp negotiator would make mincemeat out of them.

You donít need to love negotiating. But if you dislike it, it will dramatically affect your mental state. At a minimum, if you view negotiating as a learning experience you will go into it with a much better attitude. Embrace the growth mindset and youíll discover things you never knew before.

Five Mental Strategies For Better Negotiating

In my years as an executive coach, Iíve had the privilege of working with many people in the C suite. Iíve also been on retainer to some of the wealthiest families in the world. Iíve had the pleasure of watching these high-level people negotiate, and Iíve learned much from them. Iíve also studied negotiation extensively. And in the multiple businesses Iíve owned through the years, Iíve been negotiating on a regular basis. Here are five of my favorite strategies to help you become a better negotiator.

  1. Recognize That You Negotiate Multiple Times A Day: At the end of a day sit down and think back to all the interactions you had with people. How many of them involved a negotiation of one sort or another? I can only imagine you had multiple negotiations, even if they were minor in nature. Make it a point to become aware when you are engaged in a negotiation during your normal daily activities, and you can then learn from these situations, and even test out new negotiating tactics and techniques. Then youíre learning all about negotiation in a low-consequence environment.

  2. List The Many Benefits You Will Receive From Becoming An Excellent Negotiator: One reason many people dislike negotiating is that they view it as a necessary evil. They see no benefits in negotiating beyond the immediate goal of the current negotiation. But if you make a list of all the benefits you can receive from learning about negotiation, and how you can apply these skills and tools to many areas of your life, your motivation to become better at negotiating will increase dramatically. Negotiating skills can be used in job performance appraisals, purchasing retail goods, handling disagreements with loved ones, handling conflicts with coworkers and bosses, and countless other situations.

  3. Improve Your Acting Skills: Not everyone wants to be an actor, and most people donít think about acting skills as they go through their day, but we all actually are actors on the stage of life. We present ourselves one way with our loved ones, and another way with complete strangers. We may have extroverted high energy banter with certain types of friends, and soft and gentle behavior with very young children. Consider that youíre an actor when you negotiate. You can utilize your facial expressions and vocalizations to have an effect on your negotiating counterpart. You can put forth intentional body language to make the person across the table think certain things about you.

  4. Get The Right Mindset For Negotiating: Common advice for going into a negotiation is to take nothing personally. Itís critical that you donít become emotional or distract yourself. One mindset you could have about negotiating is to view it as a game. Another mindset is to be privately amused about the various antics you see your counterpart exhibit. Another mindset is to have compassion for your opposition when you realize how desperate and worried they must be to try the ridiculous ploys theyíre using. Another mindset is to have mental toughness, and to realize that every negotiation you enter makes you wiser, tougher and more experienced. You toughen up mentally by going through difficulties. Finally, before you go into a negotiation, make a list of the attributes you would like to display to your opposition. Maybe youíd like to be seen as professional, reasonable, savvy, intelligent, up-to-date, calm and cool, ethical, etc. Choose the constellation of personal elements you want to intentionally show the opposition and they very likely will perceive you that way.

  5. Know All The Mind Tricks, And Have Contingency Plans In Place: Have you ever been confronted by a bully? A bully gets a pay-off when they see their ďvictimĒ react. If their target doesnít react, or responds in a way that shows theyíre not bothered by the bullyís actions or words, the bully is disappointed. They thought they had an easy mark that they could have some ďfunĒ with. So the first rule of dealing with a bully is to never let them see you sweat. Donít give them the satisfaction that theyíre getting to you. Donít give them any ammunition they can use against you. Weíre not calling your counterpart in negotiations a bully, but they are attempting to use mind games and clever tricks against you to see if they can get an unfair advantage. You have a wide range of behaviors and verbalizations you can utilize to counteract any gamesmanship that an opposing negotiator tries on you. Study them and be able to recognize all the potential mind games an opposing negotiator could pull on you, and devise responses in advance. Then when you see these ploys show up in real time, you wonít be surprised at all, and youíll have a tactic of your own ready to deploy.

Do You Think You Deserve Success?

As a performance psychology consultant, I deal with high performing athletes up to the top college, professional, international and Olympic levels. When it comes to people breaking through self-limiting mental beliefs thereís a truism: ďPeople only achieve to the level that their self-image allowsĒ. This applies to negotiating as well. If you do not believe you deserve a certain outcome, that is a self-limiting belief that will become a mental barrier to you achieving what you want. In the same way, when an athlete says, ĎIíve never defeated this opponent, so how can I possibly do it now?í, you as a negotiator have to at least give yourself the possibility of success. This does not mean that you are positive in your mind you will succeed. This can make you feel pressure. In contrast, hopefully you donít go into negotiations convinced you will fail. These two stances comprise positive thinking and negative thinking. There is a better route, a middle road approach that I suggest. In this approach you take a curious stance. You admit that you do not know the outcome in advance. You donít have a crystal ball where you can predict anything. So instead, you take a neutral approach with regard to your expectations. You certainly hope for the best. You have planned for the best. But you donít put unnecessary pressure on yourself by expecting that everything will work out the way you want. Instead, you keep an open mind, and you remain flexible.

So now you may have more insights about the mental game of negotiating. Success begins in your own mind. If you think you can succeed, you very likely will. If you think you cannot succeed, you almost certainly will fail. The mental stance you take is up to you. You are in charge of your own expectations. You are in charge of what you think, how you feel, and what you do. Be intentional and on purpose. Plan your work and then work your plan. Master the mental game of negotiating and youíll get more of what you need and want in life and business.

Competition is the very lifeblood of a sales professional's existence. Study it. Embrace it. Love it. Use it as success fuel. Use it to take you to the top of your mental game. Develop an unstoppable competitive mind-set, and you'll sell yourself to success.

To learn more about how sales coaching can help you become a better, more confident sales professional, visit Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach™ at www.mentalgamecoach.com/Services/SalesCoaching.html.

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Copyright © Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.

Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps organizations and professionals achieve more success in business, life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com), an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development, professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.

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