It’s very easy to let emotion cloud your judgement in negotiation. Too easy in fact. I’m not saying that emotions don’t belong in negotiations. You cannot ignore the human and emotional element in negotiations. But, emotions should be tempered with reason and logic.
Our emotions and our feelings are unreliable. When’s the last time you went grocery shopping on an empty stomach? Remember how much more you bought than what you planned? Now just imagine adding a heated situation into that and increase the stakes 5,000 fold. Get the picture? The more emotional you get, the less likely you are to make logical decisions and the more likely you are to lose your money. This is why casinos make so much money. They’ve figured out how to capture your emotions and turn them against you to extract as much money as possible out of your bank account. Think of craps! It’s literally a game of chance. There is no skill. There is no strategy. And therefore there can be no discipline. You’re literally rolling dice to win. And the board is designed to lower your odds of winning so that it’s virtually impossible for you to win in the long run.
When people win at craps they often say, “Oh, I knew that roll would win, I could just feel it!”. Give me a break. What they were feeling was probably just their indigestion going away from eating too much at the buffet. There’s a lot of research out there that suggest that our ‘gut feelings’ are actually bullshit. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with that entirely, but it does support much of the mistakes that I’ve seen negotiators make when they ‘feel’ like a negotiation is going a certain way.
Quite often, when we let emotion have too much control, we incorrectly judge how much control or power we have in a given negotiation. When we feel like we have all the power we tend to take bigger risks, make bugger bluffs, and roll the dice on decisions we know (logically) aren’t sound. But we had that ‘gut feeling’ so we run with it. Generally that’s a bad idea. Your decisions should be based on as much evidence and sound fact as you can muster. Just because you think you’re Jesse James, doesn’t mean you are. Holster those pistols, cowboy. Think before you shoot.
When we let emotion cloud our judgement we get confused between luck and skill. You think you’re a hotshot negotiator because you’ve been doing this job for 20 years, so you get cocky and arrogant. You let your guard down, get loose, and roll the dice on your next deal. Holy smokes,…you win again! This negotiation stuff is easy. So you keep rolling the dice and one day, you lose. And you lose BIG! When you roll the dice, remember that the house always wins! You will eventually pay for your arrogance. Maybe not today, but I guarantee that it will happen.
Negotiation is a game of strategy and discipline. When you forego strategy and discipline in favour of arrogance and a ‘gut feeling’, you will lose. People think that negotiation is like craps where you roll the dice ‘to see what you’ll get’. But it’s actually more of a chess game than it is like craps. It’s incredibly strategic when done well. And when you get good at it, you’ll begin to be able to read the play up to 5-7 moves in advance and anticipate the other party’s moves before they do.
So how do you get more disciplined and strategic? Well, you’ll have to wait for my next post on negotiation framework development and strategic process. In this post I’ll walk you through how to develop a foundational approach to negotiation strategy and show you how to build a framework that will give you discipline in your negotiations and almost force you to think before you shoot. But I’m getting ahead of myself and that’s for next week.