What example are we setting for our children when we negotiate?
This morning, as I was eating my breakfast, I heard a news story about two moms who got into a fist fight on a school bus when they intervened in an argument their children were having over a toy. It got me thinking about the dysfunctional way we’re conditioned to resolve conflict. It also got me thinking about the example we set for our children when we negotiate.
We have increasingly been conditioned to view conflict as a win/lose proposition. With that mindset, we’re similarly led to believe that negotiation is a competition where ‘winning’ is the goal. We seek to exert power over others. Perceived power is the driving force.
I’d like to invite you to consider that this entire model is upside down and leads to dysfunctional worst results. In fact, it was this realization that prompted me to create the Art of Feminine Negotiation™ model. After years of litigating in a flawed legal system, where winning at all costs had become the model, I recognized that there was a better way to negotiate.
At its heart, the Art of Feminine Negotiation is about building rapport, bringing empathy to the table, being flexible, tapping into your intuition, and building trust. It’s about putting yourself fully in the shoes of the other party, to truly seek to understand their position and needs to determine if you can meet those needs while still getting a best outcome for yourself.
When we buy into an approach that promotes ‘winning’, we immediately position ourselves to overpower the other party, rather than seeking ways to find power with the other party. This is a simple but profound distinction. It’s the difference between working against each other versus working with each other to find superior outcomes.
Effective negotiation requires that we acknowledge and address our fears so we can avoid the kind of lizard-brain response we saw with these two moms throwing punches on a school bus. Elevated negotiation necessitates surrendering our ego and turning our attention to the needs of the other party. It requires us to consider our attachment to our own positions and ideas to meaningfully consider those of the other party instead and to remain flexible to move away from our initial positioning to find better outcomes whenever possible.
And while it should be obvious, but rarely gets practices, it requires that we avoid reactivity. We are increasingly encouraged in the current volatile and polarized culture that ‘might’ matters. Much of our entertainment (and sadly, increasingly the real world) glorifies seeking and exercising power over others in all aspects of our lives.
In advance of any negotiation, you will be better served by considering who you want to show up as. Who do you want to be? How do you want to be seen by the other party? How do you want to make them feel? How can you best get buy-in? How can you find mutual best results? What impact do you want for the relationship in question? This approach will yield far better results that simply seeking to exert your will.
While the fight in the case at hand was over a simple toy, make no mistake that this was a negotiation. There are a myriad of ways these mothers could have modelled better behaviour and practices to resolve the issue. Rather than viewing the conflict as one they had to ‘win’ at all costs, they could have seen it as an opportunity for a valuable life lesson in healthy ways to resolve differences of opinion.
Leaving aside the horrific example these two women set for a busload of impressionable children, I invite you to consider, with intention, in advance of every negotiation, what example you would like to set for your children if they were watching you negotiate. Adopt an approach that would make you proud to have them learn from your example.
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.