Lousin Mehrabi has been working in the field of business negotiation for 20 years. She’s worked in the financial, investing, and stock exchange world, usually on commercial deals. She’s spent the last five years working as a freelance negotiator navigating complex deals. She routinely gives keynotes on how to negotiate with yourself.
Mastering your inner negotiation can be a struggle. Many salespeople negotiate themselves out of a deal, often due to a lack of confidence or self-belief. Lousin sees a lack of confidence in negotiators who are forced to navigate complex deals that can’t be lost. It could be a high-stake dollar amount, a hostage negotiation, or a suicide attempt.
Their inner voice tells them they’re not experienced enough, not good enough, and that they can’t handle what lies ahead. They downgrade their possibilities before they even go in. That’s why self-negotiation is so important. Someone else can encourage you and tell you that you have the skills and expertise—but if you don’t believe it yourself, it won’t work.
Get clear on your “why” to remove limiting thoughts
You have to work to understand yourself. And before you go into a negotiation, you have to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If you don’t have a clear “why,” you need to reevaluate your negotiation. When you have a clear reason, your self-confidence increases because you have a good reason to negotiate; you know that you’re the right person and negotiating with the right person.
But how do you get clear on your way? Let’s say you work in sales and have to get a deal done. So the question to ask is, “Why am I negotiating this deal?” It’s not exciting or empowering to say, “This is my job and what I have to do.” Instead, why can’t it be, “I’m doing this to pay my salary to pay rent on the house that I love to live in.”
Maybe getting the deal done will get you noticed, and you’ll get the promotion you’ve been working toward. If you attach your ‘why’ to a personal goal, it gives you the motivation to succeed, especially when things become difficult.
Don’t unconsciously derail a negotiation
You can unconsciously derail a negotiation if you walk into a negotiation lacking the right why. A good negotiator can read your body language and emotions and can tell you don’t want to be there. You have to give yourself a pep talk, stand in a power pose, or do anything you need to be your best self. Become conscious of your body language and put your best foot forward.
Diagnose the problem before you try to solve it
Mastering your inner negotiation also hinges on your confidence in your understanding of your counterpart’s problem. You can make assumptions about what the problem is. But you can’t solve a problem unless you know what it is. You must spend enough time researching what they need to solve.
When you walk into a negotiation open-minded, curious, and controlled—and leave your ego and assumptions behind—coming to an agreement is almost a no-brainer for the other party.
It comes down to listening skills and curiosity. Ask the right questions and explore everything that you can. Lousin notes that even if you’ve negotiated with someone 25 times before, you can’t walk in assuming you’ll know their mood, non-negotiables, and mandates they were given.
Abraham Lincoln said, “If I only had an hour to chop down a tree, I would spend the first 45 minutes sharpening my axe.”
Learn more about mastering your inner negotiation and negotiating through adversity in episode #339 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast.