Eastern Philosophy in Negotiation 

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What Eastern philosophy can you embrace to enhance your negotiations? How does an Eastern mindset influence the negotiation process? Mala Subramaniam answered these questions in episode 145 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Mala is a cross-cultural trainer and executive coach with over 20 years of experience.

Towards the beginning of her career, she taught what she had learned from books and training. Then one day someone asked her about Indian principles of negotiation. It was then that she realized she needed to start teaching the Eastern Philosophy that she knew inside and out.

Use the Eastern philosophy of meditation to declutter your mind

Mala points out that the noise in your head can be deafening. You walk into a negotiation with preconceptions, biases, and prejudices—and this is NOT how you want to enter into the process. She recommends meditation, listening to soft music, going for a long walk, or listening to something motivational. Why? So you can be fully present and listen.

She notes that “Open-minded listening happens when your mind is clutter-free. If it is cluttered, you’re not listening to the client—or whoever it is that you’re working with—with an open mind and coming up with strategies that address the problem that they’re presenting.”

Research shows that mindfulness and meditation can start activating your prefrontal cortex earlier in discussions and stress-based situations. When you’re in a stressful situation, your amygdala starts shooting out cortisol and you get flustered and angry. Some sort of mindfulness practice—such as meditation—can help you activate rational thought sooner.

Mala prefers to meditate early in the morning to start her day the right way. She believes meditation gives you a balanced mindset where you’re more accepting, open, and less-judgmental—and one of the worst things you can do is judge people. She shares, “When you elevate yourself, the clutter goes away.”

When you focus on what the person needs and how to help them, it changes the outcome of negotiations. Per Mala, “It takes me out of the fear and anxiety and the ego and all those negative emotionsand puts me at a higher plane so that I am not reacting.

The Chakras and concept of Sankalpa

In Mala’s book, she touches on the concept of balancing your Chakras (which are the energy centers in your body). If these energy centers are not balanced and not being used optimally, you get into a diseased state. She shares 8 principles in her book and if you don’t use them, your negotiation won’t be balanced.

Mala notes to become more balanced, you need to focus on your role in every given situation. Don’t find someone else to blame. What is your role? What can you do? Take ownership. Then you set your Sankalpa. A Sankalpa is an intention you form with your heart and mind. It is a resolve to focus physiologically and philosophically on a specific goal. It is another means to harmonize mind and body.

Base your goals on your needs—not your desires

Another Eastern philosophythat Mala believes you should embrace? Base your goals on needs rather than desiresbecause desires are endless.

Mala was working with someone who wanted a website built. The client focused on specific pages she wanted for her YouTube videos, social media, etc. She was being bogged down by the specifics of her vision for the website. Then the web designer said, “You’re a very good public speaker. What you need is the attention focused on your speaking ability.” She accepted their proposal and the website did well. When the focus was shifted to the end goal of the website, it became successful.

Mala points out that a desire is never a business need. It is something that you have within you. When it’s based on desire, you use terminology such as “I like” and “I don’t like.” When you have those strong likes and dislikes, it’s very difficult to satisfy you.

Do you want to learn more about the differences between Eastern and Western negotiation styles? Or other Eastern philosophies and mindsets you should embrace? Mala shares her negotiation strategies and tactics as well as simple—and complex—cultural differences you need to be mindful of in episode 145 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast. Be sure to listen!