Ace the negotiation with the self. Win every game.
Each of us goes to bed at night everyday with either a raise or a demotion. Most of us are just not aware of it. Yes, we negotiate all day. Either getting our way, or giving in. Winning some, losing some.
Sure, there are the ones that are more visible, overt, obvious. The heated haggle with the grocer. The strategic bargain with the boss. The sophisticated dicker with the client. The horse trading with the business partner. The deal with the guy at the parking lot.
But there are deeper, more important negotiations going on, parallely. Ones that are responsible for the biggest decisions of our life (and provide the rationale for rest).
Quit the job and start a business? Get a second house? Break up with lover? Send the kids to boarding school? Increase the health insurance premium? Get an image makeover at work? Accept a friend request from the high school bully who left a scar (that still hasn’t healed)? Cheat on the dietician? Go to sleep half hour early? Adopt a pet?
Guess who decides these outcomes? The negotiations we have with ourselves.That’s right. At any given moment, there are an infinite number of voices vying for attention in the echo chambers of our mind. The nag. The plea. The scream. The cry. The threat. The solace. The spark. The pat on the back. We’re all familiar with them, aren’t we? We’re forever exchanging Hellos, Ouches-es and Eurekas with strangers (and some familiar faces, too) somewhere deep within the inner sactum.
These voices are engaged in endless negotiations from morning till night – and the action carries on right into our dreams. Counselling us. Deceiving us. Motivating us. Whoever wins the tug-of-war, decides the next critical turn, the next big bend, of our journey.
To win our outer negotiations, we must learn to master our inner ones first. Because one thing is for sure: If we cannot win the inner haggle, there’s no way we are winning the outer one.
The thumb rule here is to dive into the fray without a manual and wing it on-the-go. Learn the ropes through the sheer dint of practise. Engage with the self intimately. Graduate from reaction to response. Negotiate relentlessly, negotiate impartially, negotiate hard.
The secret trick? Tweak and apply the evergreen rules of ‘real world’ (external) negotiations to the internal one. First off, we make sure that we’re honest (it’s impossible to ‘outlie’ our own self, isn’t it?). Stay cool. Prepare in advance. Set the stakes. Probe constantly. Aim high. Develop options. Be co-operative. Control the temptation to reveal. Keep the special cards close to the chest. Read between the lines.
Try to understand what the other party really wants. Look for the blink. Put the foot down. Be gutsy enough to raise the stakes. Find out pressure buttons. Speak less than is expected. Surprise. Confide. Ambush.
Always deal from a position of strength. Don’t accept the first offer. And never monetize a position of strength early (yes, even if the items on the table are non-commercial in nature).
When we invest in ourselves, we grow. Training ourselves to engage with our mind better makes us a veteran negotiator.
In time, we will make sense of each ambiguous tone. Figure out the hidden agenda under each sugar-coated exchange. Call the bluff on the blackmail. Decipher the decoy. Anticipate the tip-off. Gratefully accept the tip.
We hit the peak the day we achieve the ultimate objective of any good negotiation: Both the parties leaving the table smiling. In other words, get the soul to nod without hard feelings.
Ace the hustle with the self. And we never have worry about winning a negotiation again.