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Should you listen to a Devil’s Advocate?

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Why would we encourage someone to tell us we are wrong and that our ideas aren’t clear? Sometimes it could be the push we need to be better, to do more, or to make more. John Adams, the second President of the United States, relied on his wife Abigail for advice and critiques to lead our country. With that said, taking the extra hour to script your pitch for a meeting or to hand off your proposal to a co-worker might not only be the remedy to miscommunication, but the key to success. So, do you have a devil’s advocate, someone you can turn to for guidance? Who is your Abigail Adams?

If you’re the drafter…

The tried and true process of putting pen to paper allows us to work through our thoughts and uncover our real goals. We have drafted our proposals and scripted our speeches And, now that you know what you want to say, and think you have said it clearly, hand it to the one person you know won’t be biased or go easy on you. When he or she brings you back your draft with red marks and arrows, go and redraft the script. Do it again and again until your devil’s advocate has run out of recommendations. In this case, third time may not be the charm. It may be the fourth or fifth or tenth. But when all is said and done, you will have a script that is clear and concise.

If you’re the devil’s advocate….

Maybe you are sitting at your desk when a co-worker hands you their latest proposal. They ask you to read it over, make suggestions, and be brutally honest. How can you be a good devil’s advocate? Here are a few key things to consider.

Is the intended demand or request clear? What can you change to make it more apparent?

Are the facts there, or does the proposal sound too personal?

Is the proposal concise and specific? What type of language do they use?

Take-aways: Take your time with a proposal. Get your ideas down on paper and don’t be afraid to redraft until it is right.  Be someone’s Abigail Adams and let someone be yours. You will be more successful in the long run if you’re not afraid to ask for advice.

EDGE Program Reflection

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By: Ronald M. Shapiro, co-founder and chairman at SNI

As I reflect back on my opportunity to impact the participants of a Global Executives program known as EDGE, I wanted to share some background on the program, what my role was, and a participant’s testimonial on how The Power of Nice has enhanced his negotiation skills.

What is EDGE?

EDGE stands for Baltimore Emerging & Developing Global Executives.  It is a program that was started in September of this past year by the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI).  For those of you who are not familiar with WTCI, it is a non-profit, 501 C3 organization that helps to educate, support and connect Maryland companies to opportunities around the world.

What was it about the EDGE program that intrigued you?

As a teacher, I am always intrigued by the opportunity to interact and train business professionals on the art of negotiation, but the EDGE program, in particular, stuck out to me.  It was a program that I knew I could have a profound impact on the participants.

The goal of the EDGE program is to enhance each participant’s business acumen and to increase Baltimore’s international competitiveness.  The program’s duration lasts about 10 months, which includes an off-site retreat, multi-cultural training, meetings with c-level executives, and seven half-day sessions on topics of leadership and global business importance.  This is where I came in.  WTCI invited me to present at one of the EDGE program’s training sessions called the Art & Science of Global Negotiation.

With over 50 years of experience negotiating deals in similar industries to those of the participants, I was able to draw on my experiences and illustrate real-life negotiation examples.  By relating these examples to the participants’ world, they are better able to connect the negotiation principles they have learned to experiences they have had, bringing new light to the principles presented in the program.

Who were the participants in the EDGE program?

The participants were business professionals from a variety of different industries.  These business professionals came from companies such as Under Armour, Legg Mason, Northrop Grumman, Proctor & Gamble, TESSCO Technologies, and T. Rowe Price.  Each participant had 10+ years of experience within their defined industry.

By having an experienced, diverse group of less than twenty participants, I was able to focus on problems that each individual was facing and customize scenarios to replicate real-life negotiations. Through an interactive presentation that included live negotiations, each participant was able to use the negotiation principles presented and apply them in a live simulation – a key to maximizing impact.

Reflecting on your experience with the EDGE program, how impactful was your presentation?

I have taught tens of thousands of business professionals throughout the world – and the reason I continue to teach is because of the impact these programs have upon the participants.  Below is a quote from Perry Menzies of Terminal Corporation, a participant in the EDGE program, as he reflected on his experience.

“For me, some of the key takeaways from the EDGE program came from the powerful session on Global Negotiation presented by Ron Shapiro. This session was very interactive and allowed participants to engage in a mock negotiation situation. This proved to be incredibly well-timed as Terminal Corporation was going through annual rate negotiations as well as quoting new business in an effort to diversify into more inelastic cargoes. Using knowledge from this seminar we were able to successfully negotiate all rate increases as well as negotiate new business that we are confident will minimize the exposure we previously had in handling mainly forest products…” – Perry Menzies, Terminal Corp.

As exemplified by Perry’s testimonial, The Power of Nice is a program that brings real results to real people and can positively impact the negotiation skills of professionals in all industries.

The Difference between Settling and Compromising in Corporate Negotiations

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Settling for something less than what we think we deserve can feel like giving up. Compromise, on the other hand, leaves us feeling like we’ve taken something away from a deal. The question then, is what is the difference between compromising and settling? Is one better than the other? Should both be avoided? How can businesses win through compromise? Once you know the difference, you can answer questions like this and make your negotiations more successful.

The Difference between Compromising and Settling 

Whether a negotiation feels like you’ve settled or like you’ve reached a compromise may depend on the way decisions were reached, rather than on the actual outcome. The language for each implies that two or more parties will commit to something, namely, upholding the decision that is reached.

Settling, however, does not imply negotiation. Instead, settling usually involves a unilateral decision. In other words, a person selling his or her house may be settling for an asking price when he or she knows the home is actually worth more. A teacher given a specific curriculum to follow may have to settle in certain areas because he or she did not design that curriculum. The principal or other administrator decided this was what would be used, and the teacher needs to abide by that decision.

In contrast, compromise implies negotiation. Both parties have to “surrender” to some extent, but at the same time, both get some of what they want. Compromise involves the objective understanding of how much you and other people are worth. It also involves agreement to a plan that will benefit all involved parties instead of a unilateral decision that will benefit only some people at the table.

Why You Don’t Want to Settle 

Settling is generally seen as negative for many reasons. As mentioned, it gives involved parties less freedom. Additionally, settling can mean secrecy. This doesn’t always mean making agreements behind closed doors. Sometimes it simply means omitting information for someone else’s benefit. For instance, your friends usually don’t know that you settled for seeing the movie they want to see – but that you will hate – because you didn’t speak up. Your supervisor may not know that you settled for less time off because something in her body language or tone intimidated you.

Settling often leads to dissatisfaction, which can fester and become anger. To avoid this, you need to know how to make effective compromises.

Compromising Effectively 

Once you know you’ll have to compromise, step back and analyze what the other person or people are telling you. What is their greatest need right now? For example, you might be asking for a raise at a time when your company is financially strapped. Ask yourself if there is a way to be satisfied with less money than you expected, while still getting more. Perhaps instead of a 10% raise, you could ask for 5%. Maybe your supervisor could give you a small consulting fee or overtime pay instead of a permanent raise for the work you already do.

If you need to know more about compromising and how to do it effectively, our negotiation training can help you.

The Impact of Body Language in Negotiations

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Whether you are negotiating for a raise, time off, or the sale of a new product, every word and movement in a negotiation is crucial. Most people know to choose their words carefully while negotiating, but body language is often forgotten. The way we toss our head, flail our hands and crisscross our legs all influence negotiations in distinctive ways, so using the right body language is vital to success.

Copycat for Success

Researchers often find that the longer two people are in the same room, the more they mimic each other’s body language and gestures. For example, you might come into your supervisor’s office to negotiate a raise and find that after twenty minutes, you’re both leaning back with your legs crossed. Most people feel silly when they realize this is happening or worry that mimicry will make them look like they are brownnosing, so they stop doing it.

Researchers, however, tend to agree that mimicry is positive. Mimicking someone else’s body language or gestures, even unconsciously, shows a desire to build rapport. Additionally, most people find that clients who mimic them are more persuasive and honest than those who do not.

Stay Constructive

If you negotiate frequently, chances are you will eventually come across someone who you find challenging to converse with. This person may ask you the same type of questions over and over. He or she may pronounce a common word in a way that annoys you or unconsciously drum his or her fingers on the table. No matter the behavior, it can be difficult to hide your irritation.

 

Researchers have performed studies to determine whether people can hide their reactions to emotionally charged images. The studies found that although discomfort is difficult to hide, untrained observers do not often detect it. In other words, your client may not realize his finger-drumming distracts you, or your boss may not realize you’re nervous during a meeting. That being said, experts recommend that you stay as constructive as possible. Use neutral body language, and phrase criticisms constructively.

 

Have a Handshake

 

For decades, experts have advised employees to maintain a firm, warm handshake. While firm handshakes are still preferable, handshakes of any kind make people feel comfortable and respected. If you can’t grip someone’s hand as firmly as a colleague, or if your hands are naturally cold, don’t despair. The fact that you made the gesture will show the other person you are serious about negotiations and care what they have to say.

 

Keep Eye Contact

 

Eye contact is difficult for many people. In fact, some people from countries outside the US may find it offensive. However, good eye contact is key for US and Canadian negotiations. Maintain it to show your honesty and interest in the other person. Try not stare or focus too long on one point. This can be interpreted as aggression. Feel free to look away while thinking or deciding how to word something. If you naturally have trouble with eye contact – for example, you are from a culture that frowns on it – let the other person know. That way, he or she won’t assume you’re being evasive.

 

If you would like more tips, you can visit us online to find out about negotiation training.

Succeeding in the Workplace with a Disability

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As the world becomes more inclusive, more businesses are hiring people with disabilities. While this is good, many workers with disabilities are coming into the workforce without necessary skills, particularly negotiation skills. There are a few key workplace negotiation skills that will help workers with disabilities succeed.

Assertiveness

People with disabilities have usually spent their lives being told “no.” It’s not usually anyone’s fault; the natural tendency is to focus on what the person can’t do or will not be able to do. Because of this, many people with disabilities struggle to assert themselves, especially as adults. They think they won’t get what they want so shouldn’t bother asking or that others will get upset when asked for things. It’s crucial that people with disabilities know how to kindly, but confidently ask for –

  • Reasonable modifications. In the workplace, this is often a safety and quality of work issue.
  • Competitive salaries. Many disabled workers are used to performing low-wage jobs. They may not know they can ask for raises or think they will be considered deserving of them. However, competitive salaries are a major part of inclusion. Remember, equal pay for equal work.
  • Equal time. Whether this involves time to speak at meetings, time in training or at seminars, or time negotiating with supervisors, workers with disabilities need the same considerations as their non-disabled peers. The same goes for vacation time and sick leave.

 Creativity

Part of being a good negotiator is being creative. Just because an idea won’t work when implemented one way doesn’t mean it won’t work at all. People with disabilities are often highly creative because they’ve had to modify the “typical” way of performing tasks. Supervisors and coworkers should help people with disabilities use their creativity at work, especially when negotiating to take on a project that interests them or when implementing a new technology.

Networking

You can’t negotiate successfully without knowing how to network, either face-to-face or via technology. Many disabilities require assistive technology for communication; this can be useful in negotiations. If your disability impacts your hearing for example, you can expertly use tools like Skype or a visually-enhanced telephone to make negotiations. If your disability precludes driving, you should be given transportation to and from the networking opportunities your coworkers attend. You should also work on skills like shaking hands, making small talk, and pitching products where applicable.

Positive Attitudes

A positive attitude makes every workday more enjoyable and leaves a good impression on supervisors, competitors, and coworkers. Some people with disabilities struggle with this; again, this is a population that hears “no,” “you can’t,” or “that won’t work” frequently. If this describes you, work to increase optimism. Walk into negotiations telling yourself, “I can do this. The company needs me and my ideas. I deserve this. I will succeed.”

Rules of Negotiation: Getting Your Outcome With Tact

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During a negotiation, each side has deep interest in seeing their desires come to pass. Sometimes compromises that leave all parties completely satisfied can be made, but there are cases where issues leave one side at a deficit. This can create resentment or increase conflict.

It is important for negotiators to reach their end goal while still maintaining amicable and fruitful relationships with those in opposition. Learn how to effectively communicate your point while utilizing tact and diplomacy to preserve your professional connections.

 

Demonstrate Emotional Control 

Emotional control is our ability to recognize our own emotional response to situations. People who have a higher level of emotional intelligence can identify and control their emotions. Additionally, emotional intelligence allows us to recognize the way other people respond to situations. An effective negotiator easily recognizes personal emotions before they come to the surface, and he or she knows how to elicit and manage a response from the other side. This allows them to negotiate with tact. Because they understand emotion, they know how to manipulate the situation without offending anyone.

Listen Attentively 

Everyone wants to be heard. Experienced negotiators know how to talk, but they also know how to listen. When you truly listen to someone, you establish a bond while learning about his or her needs. In turn, you can understand each side with clarity and how to bridge any remaining gaps. Attentive listening not only garners respect from the opposition; it prepares you to offer solutions.

Show Assertiveness 

Assertiveness and tact go hand in hand. When negotiating, you don’t want to be seen as passive, but you also don’t want to be perceived as overly aggressive. The essence of negotiating with tact is to make your point without making the other person angry or intimidated. Learning to be assertive entails finding the balance between passiveness and aggressiveness. A firm handshake, confident eye contact, and a demonstration of your intelligence should accomplish this nicely.

Keep the End Goal in Mind 

Before going into a negotiation, clearly define your goals. This may mean writing them down and thinking about how to achieve them. Negotiators step outside themselves and see the big picture. Because of this, they are also able to forecast possible objections to their arguments and come up with solutions. Prepare your responses to possible objections, so you can demonstrate to others that you respect their opinions and considered their needs, as well.

Sources:

http://www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/tact-diplomacy.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/christinapark/2015/01/09/eight-powerful-negotiation-tips-for-introverts/

http://www.how-to-negotiate.com/interpersonal-communication-skills.html

How to Be Nice & Negotiate With Confidence

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Many people think the negotiation process involves a heated debate and sly tactics. While this is the case occasionally, there are plenty of ways to negotiate with respect. Being cordial during a negotiation doesn’t mean being a pushover, either. Negotiation training can show people how to communicate with confidence while still being a nice person. The main goal of “nice” negotiation is to be fair and still get what you want.

Establish a Rapport 

Making small talk before negotiations begin builds a relationship with the person. It also gives you an advantage over the situation. Small talk affords you the opportunity to learn about the other person; what their motives are, how they perceive their surroundings, and how they respond to them. In this way, you can build a relationship while building your tactics.

Small talk doesn’t have to be strictly personal; you can chat about the company or the upcoming negotiation. People who engage in small talk before a negotiation are substantially more successful at reaching an agreement.

Be Firm in Your Argument 

You can be firm when arguing your side without coming across as rude. Demonstrate your knowledge on the subject, and show your opponent that you know what you’re talking about by providing thoughtful information. Back up your argument with factual evidence and logic.

For example, imagine you’re buying a car. When negotiating with the salesman, show them that you researched the car and the value of the particular model. Convey confidence in your negotiating skills with a firm handshake upon introduction and an expertise in your field, and you will come across as knowledgeable, not arrogant.

Show Emotion, But Not Too Much 

We can look to the car dealership example for this concept, as well. Many times, when people shop for a car, they fall in love with a particular model and outwardly express their opinion. Obviously, the salesman uses this to his advantage when trying to get the most money out of the sale.

When they see emotion, they see dollar signs. It’s helpful to show a little emotion, as it shows that you’re human, and it helps the other person open up. Being overly emotional about a subject, however, makes you vulnerable to hardball tactics. Know when to hold back, when to open up, and when to let go.

Negotiation training can teach you how to identify when “nice” negotiating will work best. Of course, this is not the best way to approach the situation, but knowing when to use it can reap some significant rewards.

 

Sources: http://www.fastcompany.com/3001209/negotiate-car-salesman-5-tactics-help-you-win-every-time

4 Traits the Best Salespeople Share

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There are certain personality traits and characteristics that enable an individual to be successful at sales. Temperaments, ways of approaching people, and even external appearance can all be a huge influence on a salesperson’s efficacy with clients. Most of these traits are applicable to more than sales, too; they’re valuable life skills that will travel with you throughout your career.

Being Self-Aware 

To understand the way others perceive us, we must first understand ourselves. Being self-aware and identifying our emotions is a useful skill at work and in life. Salespeople have the inherent ability to read their own and others’ emotions, which allows them to adjust their response. Once you can identify how you respond to certain stimuli, you can work on changing your actions, if necessary.

Think about how you react when you don’t understand something. Do you get mad? Do you make a reasonable effort to wrap your head around it? Or do you change the subject? Salespeople know ahead of time how they tend to react and what type of reaction will elicit a positive response in a given situation.

Solution Oriented

Salespeople are adept at solving problems; that’s what makes them so good at their jobs. When a salesman pitches an idea or product, they must first identify a problem for which the product offers a solution. They convince the person by explaining how the product or idea works to make their life easier. In the event that a customer has a complaint or a pitch goes sour, they know how to solve that problem, too. Understanding is the foundation for problem solving. To effectively solve a problem, you must first understand the nature of it.

Optimistic 

Optimism isn’t limited to salespeople. It is a healthy outlook everyone should embrace. Optimistic people are more confident, and confidence gets you everywhere. The key to becoming more optimistic is to thoroughly analyze your emotional response to situations. Imagine you wake up in the morning and stub your toe getting out of bed. You can either think: “oh great, it’s going to be that kind of day,” or you can think: “at least I’m wide awake now!” It’s this type of decision in your perception that alters your entire day.

Assertiveness 

Being assertive doesn’t mean being aggressive. There are plenty of ways to convey your assertiveness without coming across as arrogant. When a customer tells an assertive salesman they would like to think about the offer and get back to them, the salesman will often ask for a specific time and date to follow up. This isn’t as passive as simply saying “okay,” and it’s less aggressive than saying “it’s now or never.” It is both firm and accommodating.

How to Influence Management

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You don’t have to be a manager or CEO to influence others. Many people are born with the innate talent to influence. They seem to have a natural ability to compel others to listen; however, this is a talent that can be learned, as well. Influence training helps people learn to look within themselves and find the power to lead people. Leadership is an important skill to learn, whether or not you’re in a leadership role. It’s a skill that can be carried on throughout the rest of your career and life.

Be Logical 

When trying to get your point across, you must first address the logic within your cause. If you can convey to someone that your argument is a logical alternative, he or she will be more willing to listen to what you have to say. If you’re trying to come to problem solve with upper management, logical arguments usually create attentive listeners.

Be sure your side is clearly defined, and offer factual details to back it up. Be ready to address the downsides with effective solutions, as well. For example, if you’re trying to influence management to let you take on new responsibilities, explain how you will handle these duties. Address the common pitfalls that hinder those with new responsibilities and how you plan to handle them.

Speak to His or Her Emotional Side 

Another way to build on your ability to influence is to appeal to the person emotionally. Obviously, you need to understand your audience to do this. Speaking with great enthusiasm isn’t going to win over curt and fact-focused managers. Think about the person you’re trying to convince, speak to his or her emotion, and slip his or her name into conversation when you can. This age old trick is a proven way to get people to listen – just don’t use it too much or you risk sounding robotic!

Work Together 

One of the most time-tested approaches to influencing others is to convince them to get on board with you. “If you can’t beat em’, join em’,” as they say. With this tactic, you’re playing up the solution you will reach together. There are several ways to appeal to the cooperative side of the argument. For example, you could ask the person for help or new ideas with a topic, you could partner up and work directly with someone, or you can form alliances with those who already support your cause.

Many effective influencers use a combination of these three tactics. With practice, you will learn when and where each scenario works best. As you get better at reading people, you will get better at influencing them, and vice versa. This will also help you build essential leadership skills to advance your career.

Sources: http://www.forbes.com/2011/01/03/influence-persuasion-cooperation-leadership-managing-ccl.html

Negotiation Lifehacks: the three D’s

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Some people may feel like negotiation isn’t really a skill-set they need to develop because they don’t work in sales, or law, or sports management or whatever. But the truth is everybody — except maybe for certain categories of criminals and tyrants — negotiates to have their personal needs and interests met.

Negotiation isn’t the same thing as manipulation. The difference between those two things hinges on the difference between good faith and bad faith. Negotiation is a good faith effort to have our personal wants and needs met.

Here are a few examples of everyday situations in which negotiation becomes necessary:

  • Maybe you need to sell something of value and can’t afford to sacrifice on the price, but the value you imagine isn’t imagined the same way by others.
  • Maybe you need to marshal support of peers and colleagues for an idea you feel strongly about.
  • Perhaps you need to settle a debt.

Because situations like these come up all the time, negotiation really is an ordinary, everyday task. It’s just one that requires extraordinary preparation to master.

All of us have conversations everyday. And we’ve all heard conversation referred to as an artform. Well, by extension, negotiation is the art of difficult conversations. And prepared negotiation is the art of succeeding in difficult conversations, while retaining amicable relations. So let’s discuss some negotiation training and preparation techniques called the three D’s to help us work toward mastery.

Draft

Most of us understand how we feel on emotional levels, as opposed to intellectual levels, which means articulating our feeling without allowing emotion to dominate their expression in conversation can often feel a little strange and awkward. There’s a school of thought that characterizes honest communication as the simple act of describing how you feel, and then clearly stating what you want. It’s a simple two-step process. While that may seem overly simplistic at a glance, deeper inspection shows it’s not. Sitting down before hand to gather thoughts and sort out how we feel about the details of a situation, and then ruminate on a workable solution takes our personal, emotional experience and transmutes those vague thoughts into focused and defined concepts that can be expressed clearly. In some cases, like a tense situation or a dispute that requires resolution, the drafting stage can provide some catharsis that purges negative emotions from the situation.

Drafting gets to the substance of what you want to say, but it is not the end of the conversation. A couple of other aspects to consider in the drafting stage are:

  • Objectives: What do you hope to accomplish in this negotiation? Can it be broken down into a simple list?
  • Precedents: Can you think of any example where other people faced a similar situation? Where they successful, or did they fail? Is there a lesson for you to draw from in their experience?
  • Anecdotes: You may find that precedents lead to relatable stories. Telling stories is a great method for taking a particular circumstances and making them universally relatable. Consider applying this method without turning into Ben Matlock, if possible.

Devil’s Advocate

The devil’s advocate stage is where we put the draft we’ve compiled to the test. The goal is to verify whether or not the drafting stage sufficiently exorcised the emotions involved, or if our argument is still under the influence of those emotions in ways that are counterproductive to the goals. If the emotions and the logic don’t merge into a persuasive argument, the devil’s advocate will help reveal which of the pertinent thoughts, feelings, hopes, and expectations should remain on the negotiation table, and which ones should go.

Some questions to consider in the devil’s advocate stage are:

  • What happens if things don’t work out?
  • What are some alternate outcomes you’re willing to consider?
  • To what degree do alternative outcomes satisfy your interests?
  • What are the needs and wants of the other party that you may be able to address?
  • What are the other party’s options if they choose not to work it out with you?

Recruit a Trusted friend or colleague to play your devil’s advocate. Practice delivering the argument you develop from the drafting stage and have your devil’s advocate pose counterpoints. This will put you in the shoes of the other party. Devil’s advocacy may be an ongoing process. Perhaps more than one redraft will be necessary, so choose someone who can remain involved for as long as possible.

Deliver

Remember the concept of honest communication from the beginning of this post? Describe how you feel. Then state what you want.

Remember how we considered whether or not the idea of saying how you feel and then asking for what you want, was overly-simplistic? It’s not. But it is easier said than done. For most people the hardest part about negotiation is the asking stage. Preparing yourself for the awkward request is the real crux of this process.

What makes the hard request easier is smooth and practiced delivery. The final conversation may happen in a different context, like a different time or a different location than expected. There may be unforeseen interruptions, or questions that arise and break up the flow you’ve rehearsed. This possibility also needs to be prepared for.

Here are a few tips for that process.

  • Keep your devil’s advocate on hand to act as your delivery coach.
  • Practice delivering your scripted argument, and have your devil’s advocate interrupt with challenges to your argument.

The need to negotiate does not arise from people harboring wants and needs they’re not entitled to. Negotiation arises when perfectly legitimate wants and needs are found to be at odds with the wants and needs of others, or vice versa. Those instances in which we must engage with others to find solutions for competing needs and interests are types of negotiations. Power disparities, social dynamics, and the nuances of each person’s individual perspective, and circumstances requires that each of us negotiate with others from time to time, or else resort to crime, tyranny, or the other side of that equation, victimhood and/or martyrdom.