How is Lightning Like Negotiating?
Last night we had a brief but powerful lightning storm. It lit up the sky and was magnificent to behold. Perhaps given my penchant to see all of life as a negotiation, it immediately got me to thinking about parallels between lightning and negotiation. Before you dismiss the idea out of hand, I invite you to hear me out. At the very least, the more you increase your awareness and intentionality around negotiations, the more you’ll increase your skill and the better the outcomes you’ll be able to achieve.
Here's just a few ways that lightning and negotiation can be compared and what it means to you as a negotiator:
Energy Buildup and Release: Lightning is the result of an electrical charge buildup between the earth and the atmosphere, which is released in a sudden discharge. Similarly, negotiations often involve the buildup of tension, interests, and positions between parties. The negotiation process acts as a conduit for releasing this tension and finding a resolution.
How can you use the Art of Feminine Negotiation to avoid any damage and instead use the energy in more constructive and elegant ways?
Initial Friction: Lightning requires an initial trigger, often provided by differences in charge or atmospheric conditions, to initiate the discharge. Similarly, negotiations often begin due to conflicting interests, needs, or goals between parties.
How can you find creative ways to reframe the perceived conflict to find mutual interests and outcomes that better serve all?
Flashes of Insight: Lightning is characterized by quick and intense flashes of light. Negotiations can experience moments of breakthrough and insight, where parties suddenly see new perspectives or solutions, leading to progress.
I invite you to avoid attachment in your negotiations (to any particular singular outcome or idea) and instead show up with flexibility so you can take advantage of these potential flashes of insight when they arise.
Unpredictability: Just as lightning can strike unexpectedly, negotiations can take unexpected turns due to changing circumstances, new information, or shifting dynamics among parties.
As noted above, when you show up in a flexible mindset, you leave yourself open to recognize unexpected opportunities that present themselves during the process. When we come with a fixed ‘win/lose’ mindset we miss these opportunities.
Negotiation Bolts: Lightning discharges in the form of bolts that travel through the path of least resistance. In negotiations, there are often key points or issues that parties focus on, representing the "bolts" of discussion that need to be addressed.
While you want to pay attention to these, also be willing to think outside the box, to get curious and creative.
Intensity: Lightning is a powerful force of nature, and negotiations can also be intense, especially when stakes are high or emotions run strong.
Contrary to popular wisdom, I encourage you to lean into the messiness in negotiations. It’s when emotions show up that we can often find the underlying unstated needs and desires. This is pure gold in a negotiation when you allow yourself to be open to it.
Split-Second Decision-Making: Lightning strikes occur within fractions of a second, requiring quick decision-making. Negotiators often face time-sensitive decisions and must make judgments promptly during the negotiation process.
Intuition will come in handy here. While often ignored in the academia of negotiations, intuition is a critical skill that can lead to better outcomes when you get intentional about honing the skill.
Interconnectedness: Lightning's path can be influenced by the conductivity of surrounding objects. Similarly, negotiations are influenced by the relationships, dependencies, and interconnections between various issues, parties, and factors.
Always consider the ‘who’ in negotiations. Who ought to be included or excluded and who will be impacted?
Catharsis: After a lightning strike, the air is often cleared, and the atmosphere feels refreshed. Successful negotiations similarly result in a sense of resolution, satisfaction, and improved relations between parties.
Ideally, you want to leave your negotiations with both parties feeling better and feeling the benefits from the interaction.
Multiple Paths: Lightning can take various paths as it seeks the path of least resistance. Negotiations can involve exploring multiple avenues, options, and compromises to find the most acceptable solution.
Don’t be afraid to explore these alternate avenues in your discussions. When you allow yourself to get off the expected path, beautiful options often present themselves.
Aftermath: Lightning can leave behind visible marks or cause changes in the landscape. Similarly, negotiations can leave lasting impacts on relationships, agreements, and the way parties interact in the future.
Be intentional about not only the substantive outcomes of your negotiations, but also the relationship outcomes you desire.
Harmony with Nature: Lightning, despite its destructive potential, plays a vital role in the Earth's natural processes. Negotiations, while sometimes challenging, contribute to the cooperative processes that allow societies and organizations to function and evolve.The metaphor of lightning and negotiation highlights the dynamic, unpredictable, and powerful nature of negotiations, where energy, tension, and resolution play integral roles in shaping outcomes. The more intentional you get in preparing for your negotiations, the more you’ll reap the benefits. Much like lightning, negotiations can be exciting, awe-inspiring, delightful and capable of sparking new life.
Are you looking to up level your negotiation skills?
Please enjoy my TEDx Ocala talk
- Rise of the Feminine Voice as the Key to Our Future-
How to Get What You Want from the Boardroom to the Bedroom
Negotiation skills are a woman’s secret weapon.
Art of Feminine Negotiation debunks myths and multi-generational gender conditioning that have stopped women from fully stepping into their power. Uncover the unconscious biases that have limited women from becoming the biggest and best versions of themselves.
Learn the key skillsets that mark superior negotiators, explore how women already possess these skills in spades, and master how to start invoking these essential skills with intention in everyday life.