Lessons from Navigating Season Changes to Improve Your Negotiation Success

It’s that time of the year again. Another season change, and with it the daily uncertainty of how to dress … and more. As I’ve struggled with simple decisions during the long transition from winter to spring, it struck me that there are lessons to be learned from this quarterly dance that could improve negotiation success. I thought I’d share them with you.

One of the foundational elements of my Art of Feminine Negotiation system is my A.R.E. F.I.T (just think you ARE FIT to be a great negotiator) model. It’s a simple mnemonic representing the key skills you need to bring to the table to get best negotiated outcomes: Assertiveness, Rapport Building, Empathy, Flexibility, Intuition and Trust.

Surprisingly, these skills apply whether navigating season changes or negotiating high stakes deals. Let’s unpack them.

 

Assertiveness:

Most people confuse assertiveness with aggression. They’re not the same thing. Assertiveness comes from confidence. Confidence comes from knowledge. Knowledge comes from preparation. It’s simple really.

Rather than railing at Mother Nature about unexpected elements during season changes (like a major dump of snow the day after you swapped out your snow tires with regular tires), instead do a little preparation. Check the forecasts, consider historical patterns, calculate the pros and cons of early versus late switchover (i.e. wear on your snow tires from dry pavement versus an accident from no traction with regular tires). Ultimately you need to make a decision, knowing it may work out as planned, but it may not.

This is much like the decision-making process in traditional negotiations. Unexpected elements arise. We can try to bully and bluster our way through these changes (typically to no avail other than damaging relationships and with it outcomes), or we can do the preparation necessary to make informed decisions, remaining open to the potential need to pivot when things move in a different direction.

 

Rapport-Building

I invite you to introduce yourself to each new season. Embrace it. Discover it. Show up with curiosity. Connect. Allow yourself to enjoy it. Build a relationship with each new stage. This approach will almost certainly allow for a better experience.

Similarly, in your negotiations, don’t treat the other party as the enemy. Don’t think of them (or their ideas or proposals) as something to ‘get through’ until you can impose your will. Be intentional about building rapport. Negotiation is all about relationship and connection.

 

Empathy

It’s easy to get frustrated with the changes each new season brings. From the frogs hopping haphazardly on the roadways with spring rainfalls (making nighttime driving an adventure), to the bugs splatting against your windshield or vying for your blood, it’s easy to resent them. I get it. But what if, instead, you put yourself in their shoes? Imagine how challenging their lives are, struggling to survive their too-short time on Earth. Recognize their contribution to the eco-system and how everything falls apart without the diversity they offer. Your tolerance will rise and your frustration fall.

Likewise, in negotiations, the key to greater success is truly seeking to understand and meet the needs of the other party. Listen and learn. Adopt their perspective to broaden your own. It will profoundly change your experience and your outcomes.

 

Flexibility

Be prepared to be flexible during change of seasons. You may leave in the morning with frost on the ground and a bitter wind biting through your clothing, only to be sweating in your aptly named sweater by lunchtime. Wear layers. Bring a change of clothing. Be flexible to the need to shift.

Negotiations are no different. The other party may not show up as expected. Positions may change. Either theirs or your situation may shift. It’s important to remain flexible and open to new possibilities that may present and to find the golden opportunity in these unexpected shifts.

 

Intuition

Sometimes, even with all the preparation in the world, you just need to tap into your intuition. If you’re dying to enjoy the back deck but your intuition tells you that a whopper of a storm with gale-force winds is coming, maybe you don’t put out the patio furniture and cushions today.

This skill is often ignored or undervalued in negotiations as well. Trust your instincts. If your spidey-sense is sending off alarm bells about the trustworthiness of your bargaining counterpart, trust it! Sometimes quick decisions need to be made in negotiations. If so, slow your breathing, close your eyes, and connect with your intuition.

 

Trust

Nature can seem haphazard – sometimes even cruel. But there is an order to the seeming chaos. Nature is efficient. There is little waste or excess. Virtually everything serves a purpose and works in near perfect synchronicity. Trust it. Respect it.

In our real-world negotiations, it’s also critical to earn trust and respect. Show up with integrity. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. Protect your reputation. Keep your word.

 

As you settle in to the changes this spring brings from your corner of the world, seek to fully enjoy the experience. Be intentional in your daily negotiations and in your daily navigation of the season changes. In that way, you can position yourself to negotiate your best life.

 

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Are you looking to uplevel your negotiation skills?

Please enjoy my TedX Ocala Talk.

- Rise of the Feminine Voice


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