I’m very fortunate to live and breathe negotiation and I’m likely a bit odd because I believe that good negotiation skills truly have the ability to change people’s lives. Over the years I’ve developed a few practices that I do daily that have helped me develop my negotiation skill set. Some of them may seem obvious, but you may find some a little less so. What follows are the 3 negotiation practices I’ve developed that I perform daily to increase and maintain my skill set.
1. READ ONE HOUR PER DAY ON NEGOTIATION
I read or listen to audio books on negotiation for at least one hour every day. I got this advice directly from Brian Tracy himself. I’m fortunate to have met and had lunch with Brian at one of his seminars in Seattle when I was in university many years ago. At that sales seminar, he was vetting some new business partners at lunch and I was attending as a guest of one of his current business partners. We didn’t really speak about business. Actually, I remember talking a lot about art and sculpture. We spoke about an upcoming Rodin exhibit in Victoria. One thing that I do remember though was what he said about personal development. He said that if you invest one hour per day of study in your chosen field you will be at the top of your field within three years and within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do. I didn’t take his advise seriously and I didn’t apply it. It took me years to come to terms with this advise as a fundamental truth of personal development. I’ve really only started applying this properly in the last year. In the last year I have read or listened to a book a week on negotiation, sales, procurement, and business. The habit of reading one hour a day has changed my life. Not only have I gained new knowledge and developed new skills, but I have formed a daily habit that has allowed me to leap frog my competitors in knowledge and this has set me apart from my competition. It sounds too simple to work. And most great advice is that way.
How do you get started? – Start with one page. When people hear that I read a book a week they get intimidated and think, “Well there’s no way I have time for that.” Start with one page. Read a single page on day one. Then read another on day two. And so on. Habit development should start small. Don’t try take on the world right away. Start slow. You’ve got time.
A lot of negotiation is about being present, being empathetic, and listening. No other habit will form these skills faster than meditation. I meditate for 10-15 minutes every single morning. Meditation sounds complex and most people come into it with a lot of expectations and preconceived notions about what it is and what it isn’t. In my experience it’s really just about breathing, being present, and identifying passing thoughts. I don’t try to force my mind to focus on any one thing. All I do is count my breaths and when I though pops up I try to view it as an audience member as opposed to an actor within it, almost separating myself from the thought. It makes the thoughts easier to deal with and to be present with them as opposed to being within them. I am certainly not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but this habit has helped me to develop more patience and presence in negotiations.
How do you get started? – I recommend checking out an app called Headspace. It’s a bit awkward at first and it’s actually really difficult, but if you can dedicate just 10 minutes, you’ll start to experience a presence that you’ve never felt before.
3. ACTIVELY NEGOTIATE EVERYTHING
I actively negotiate everything. I negotiate in the grocery store, at the pizza joint, in my office, everywhere. I am constantly trying to hone my skills. A lot of that means that as I try new things, I get a lot of rejection. A LOT OF REJECTION. And this is exactly what I look for when I practice. As I practice new skills I try to push them to their limits to find out where the limits are. Much of it is really just getting comfortable with someone saying “no” and then trying to find a way to turn that “no” into a “yes”.
How do you get started? – Start somewhere/anywhere/the very next purchase you make. This isn’t so much about getting a deal as it is about getting comfortable asking for one. The more you practice and the more comfortable you get, the more you’ll start to experiment and try new things. Your negotiation ability is like a muscle that needs to be built up. The more you do, the better you get. But you have to have the courage to start with asking. Just ask. That’s it.
This is what I do everyday. Do you have success habits that you’ve built for your discipline?
If you have, I’ve love to hear them.