9 Key Ingredients of Mindful Negotiations
Mindfulness is a skill that, if cultivated and applied to negotiation, could lead to its effectiveness. In this article, we suggest that being able to negotiate in a state of awareness enables us to be flexible, open to novelty, creative with alternatives and free from the tyranny of thoughts and emotions.
The 9 key ingredients of Mindful Negotiations are:
Willingness to exert effort to understand other perspectives
Genuine interest in connecting and building the relationship
Focusing, observing and being attentive to details
Developing a sense of awareness
1. Willingness to exert effort to understand other perspectives
It was interesting to learn that understanding perspectives had to be mutual; in other words, both participants had to seek to understand and be understood, examples: exploring and evaluating, empathy, seeking to understand alternatives, being flexible, understanding the situation by observing, questioning and enquiring, acknowledging other perspectives, raising conversations and assessing.
“He was asking the right questions. I was very transparent.. I listened to the client, went back and responded after due consideration… Our method of calculation across the company changed as a result of this meeting.”
I knew where X is coming from.. I knew where Y is coming from.. I moved on to explaining what I have been doing. I recollected examples of advice I’d received from both of them before; that was very handy and showed them that I applied their advice in my action plan.”
“Great two days… Great learning experience.. Relationship with X is stronger.. Did not see the client representative after that as he lives in another part of the world, but referred him to one of my colleagues in that part of the world and they continue dealing with him on the back of my encounter.”
“I needed to focus on finding a solution.. I invited her to find a solution with me… We worked as a team.”
2. Genuine interest in connecting and building the relationship
This ingredient includes attributes such as engaging, collaborating and aiming to assist, wherever attempts were made to connect and build relationships but the effort was implied to be not genuine. This contributed unfavourably to the encounter.
I spent the first day talking to him.. The more I get to know the guy, the more I felt sorry for him..I continued to listen very carefully to him and the more I listen the more he felt at ease to talk. I think he saw my genuine reaction in my eyes.”
“I started engaging repeatedly in conversations about what she is doing… I was sending signals.. My conversations were inviting. Was I really interested..? Was I really ready..? To be honest I was not very sure.”
3. Trusting intuition
Being insightful, listening deeply or using learning from other experiences.
“A personality I can cooperate with. From talking to X, I felt it is the right deal.”
My intuition is telling me it is not the right thing to do. I did not want to believe that. I was excited, so left things loose with the guy.”
“I should have interjected and left the room earlier… I should have trusted my guts. I should have listened to my body.”
“ …had I gone with my intuition, I should have put exactly what I wanted or thought it would reasonable to him and to me. I did not.”
4. Focusing, observing and being attentive to details
Observing and being attentive included the ability to pick up signals whilst being curious.
“… I looked at her eyes and I can see pain, frustration, annoyance.”
“My first XX meeting, I felt obliged to talk. I saw X looking at me, waiting for me to talk… Everyone was looking at me… I saw XX in front of me. This guy does not like anyone. It seems that no one likes him as well.”
“…Apparently X was trying to send me some signals to pick up on an idea—I did not hear that.”
5. Mindful Listening
Mindful listening is being present in the moment with undivided attention.
“The more I listen to him, the more he is opening up. He needed someone to listen to him.”
The conversation continued for 10 minutes—he kept asking me to calm down… he can get lost.”
“I was not present. I was not listening to what he was saying.”
6. Controlling emotions
Under this banner fall both impulse control (being calm and patient) and the ability to control cognitive distortions
“Reading the first email, then the second, got upset about one in particular, I remember it upsetting me. I remember telling myself I am upset. Leave it alone… I needed to read about the job.”
“I was annoyed and hurt—how dare she talk to me like that? Who the hell she thinks she is? So I left her and decided to go out of the building for some fresh air… I need to calm down and think straight and focus. Stick to the facts. Ok stop… Stop being caught in my pre-judgment and perception…”
“I became agitated… My emotions got the better of me. I picked up the phone and gave him a call… I was not talking. I was shouting.”
7. Developing a sense of awareness
This ingredient includes the sense of being present, awareness of context and my own emotions, strengths and weaknesses. The inability to control emotions is caused by the fact that, at a deeper level, emotions are not understood.
“…I felt OK talking. I was calm, extra calm. I was nervous. I know I was nervous. I was hesitant, a bit, but I knew I was. Concerned—scared…”
“ I liked X. What a patient man. At no point did he lose his patience at all. Calmly and steadily explaining and re-explaining... Where am I? Observing, listening, bored, annoyed, overwhelmed. I know what these guys are up to. I want to lose my patience. I want to storm out of this room. What will I look like if I do so… I am bored…”
8. Remaining objective
Sticking to facts, remaining emotionally detached from any outcome, remaining calm and patient also being attached to outcome and becoming emotional about it.
"Ignoring her allowed me to focus on those terms… I knew that this will require a great deal of patience… I believe I was doing very well on that front so far.”
“I felt honored to be chosen… I was excited and ready to go. It is my chance. It is my time. I need to make an impression. I want to make an impression. I was so excited. I think I over assumed the outcome. I put too much weight on it.”
9. Understanding self
This theme differs from “Developing a sense of awareness” in that it requires an understanding and awareness of the self at a deeper level. It also includes understanding of one’s own character, personality fit and reaction to others at a deeper level.
“I felt a bit jealous of X and Y… but look at them, I really don’t want to behave in this fashion. That is not me.
“X reminded me a lot of Y. We used to be friends.. He has these silent moments about him that I hated. A void that made me feel uncomfortable. She reminds me of him.. I did not feel that her annoyance was about me; it was about some sort of disbelief as if someone has betrayed her or annoyed that she will be used again - not sure exactly what was going on with her, but she was certainly annoyed, scared and disgusted, not with me, this I am now certain of as between emotions she was trying very hard to be nice to me - I can feel it - I can feel it more when I stopped judging her.”
“… I totally lost it… this is totally unfair… The bastard was ripping us off. He rubbed me the wrong way…”
“…I felt threatened. Something triggered that big reaction, I don’t know what…”