Keep a Tab on Your Emotions & Inner Life.
Beyond this, it is vital to be in touch with ones actual feelings, thoughts, and impulses at any point in time. In “Getting Past No,” Ury advises negotiators not to react to provocative actions or comments by one’s negotiation counterparty. Reactions can lead to escalation. They can also cloud chances to learn about the other. They can kill chances to demonstrate recognition of the needs and feelings of the other, which could have enhanced the quality of communication and relationship, smoothing the bargaining, building trust, and capturing opportunities for mutual gain. The prerequisite for preventing undue reactions is sufficient self awareness to identify ones emotions and inner responses, including value judgments and the like, before they are given expression.
Cultivate a Disciplined Self Consciousness. 3
For all of this, a disciplined self-consciousness is a negotiation treasure. Part of the discipline, in not reacting, is to know that there is a difference between having a feeling, thought, or even conviction, and acting on it. Knowing oneself is a first step in keeping the ego under control.
Try Mindfulness Meditation.
How do we develop and increase this type of self knowledge? There are a range of activities and even exercises that enhance cultivation of self awareness and promote self knowledge. For nearly a decade, Professor Len Riskin4 has been promoting mindfulness meditation as a way not only of reducing stress but also of increasing awareness of one’s inner processes on the theory that this improves capacity as a negotiator or mediator. Sitting quietly, following the breath, being aware of bodily sensations, letting go particular emotions or thoughts – again, sensing the freedom of awareness without compulsive action – and, with bare attention, gaining a greater sense of presence and the richness of just being are all part of this type of exercise.
In addition, as mentioned above, reflective cataloguing of ones needs and interests in advance of a negotiation, and reconsidering needs and interests throughout the course of the negotiation, puts in the forefront of one’s consciousness matters that should be addressed or that might enable one to seize opportunities for gain in the bargaining process.
Observe the Mirror of Others.
Beyond awareness of one’s impulses, feelings, thoughts, judgments and interests, there is another type of self-understanding, all too often elusive, as expressed by the poet Robert Burns:
“O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.”5
Particularly where one is engaged in negotiation, it is important to observe not only one’s inner workings, sense of self, and recognition of one’s own interests, but also the impact one is making on the other. How do they see us?
Catch Cultural Differences.
This becomes even more critical in negotiations between members of different cultures. Lecturers like our own Professor Hal Abramson, on cross cultural understanding in the mediation context, frequently identify such differences as expectations for eye contact. In certain South American cultures, e.g., eye contact is seen as rude; yet for us, failure to make eye contact might be read as dishonesty, disrespect or a lack of self-confidence.