Why Flexibility is Important in Negotiation

Flexibility means being aware of everything that is happening and adjusting to the situation. Svitlana Kaltisun believes that the more flexible you are, the better the outcome of your negotiations, whether it’s negotiation over a job, communication with a client, or ending a war.

Svitlana used to wonder how people could change their minds so easily, sometimes overnight. She admits in the past that she was immovable in her opinions because she’d done a fair amount of research and stood by her position relentlessly. Now, she doesn’t believe that’s the best strategy.

“Think Again” — Evaluate every position

How flexible can you be? How quickly can you change your mind? How can you think about one problem from different perspectives? Adam Grant wrote a book called, “Think Again,” that implores the reader to think about one problem from numerous perspectives.

He comes up with great tips and ideas to help you keep your mind flexible. He brings home the point that changing your mind is a good thing and actually necessary to survive. There are many things you can do to change, one of which is remaining open-minded.

Determine a range of acceptable outcomes

In a commercial negotiation, many people are inflexible. They either get the price they want, or the negotiation doesn’t work out. I constantly challenge that thinking by saying, “But what if you get $1 less?” They usually say that’s okay.

Then I ask, “What if you get a dollar less than that?” I continue to challenge their range of acceptable outcomes. People feel if they don’t get what they’re asking for that they failed. But that’s not necessarily true.

Get your automatic reactions in check

In a country-to-country conflict, Svitlana believes that knowledge and education need to be at play. People limit themselves due to their automatic reactions. People get defensive when what they believe is part of their identity is challenged and go into a default mode. Knee-jerk reactions tend to lead to unsuccessful outcomes.

Svitlana hopes that if you educate people about their automatic reactions and help them become aware of them, they will be less defensive. With awareness, they can check themselves and make sure their biases and their ego aren’t impacting their negotiation. But how do you turn things around? How do you help people question their beliefs?

Adam Grant suggests making a list of conditions that might change your mind before you start a negotiation. What happens if the deal falls through? What’s your BATNA? Make a list that will tell you how to change your mind and when to exit. If something from that list comes up, you’ll be ready for a discussion.

The negotiation room is where you take action. You have to prepare your mind to be flexible no matter what arises. If both parties embraced flexibility and focused on open-minded conversations, would there be a resolution to the conflict? We certainly think so. Hear more of our thoughts on the subject in episode #320 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast!