The 2018 World Cup ended on Sunday with a ritual that should happen at the end of every game: a show of good sportsmanship. Both teams lined up and congratulated each other on a thrilling, six goal match. Happy or upset, players from France and Croatia showed respect for one another. They modeled how to win and how to lose with humility and dignity.
The teams knew from the start there would be only one winner. When the players return home they will reflect on how prepared they were and how well they played the game, not only the outcome of winning or losing. There is a lesson here that you can apply to negotiation. You may lose a negotiation if you only consider the outcomes, but the effort you put into preparation and how you behaved during the negotiation can still declare you a winner.
There are goals you set before negotiating and measures that determine whether you were successful. In most cases, the outcomes you strive for are tangible. It is easy to see if you won or lost. But there are also ways you can come out winning, even if you don’t reach your stated goals.
Try these three approaches in your next negotiation and you’ll succeed, win or lose:
1. Prepare, Prepare and Persevere
Malcolm Gladwell coined the expression the “10,000 hour rule.” He is referring to the discipline of putting in the effort to practice 20 hours per week for 10 years (10,000 hours) to be successful. You may or may not see an improvement from day to day, but over the span of a career you’ll see success.
Similarly, you need time and effort to prepare for your negotiations. You need the discipline of preparation even if you think you know enough to get by. You need to clarify your goals and identify the desired outcomes for you and the other party. You need to continuously hone your skills through practice because no two negotiations are exactly alike and you want to be ready for whatever comes your way.
2. Treat the other party how you would like to be treated.
Imagine a negotiation where you’re meeting with your opponent. With time, you may end up on the same team. Or more likely, at some point you may need them to help you. The negotiation needs to be focused on the issues that you define. It’s about finding a way to come to an agreement that, at best, you both want and. at a minimum, you can live with. It is not about attacking or demeaning the other person.
We live in a big world that’s really very small. This may sound like a contradiction, but in your networked world of work and life you are bound to meet the person again. She can be in the same office, a potential client, or knows someone who knows you. Think about how you want to be remembered, as a sore loser or a humble winner? Your behavior speaks louder than your words and that is what leaves an indelible impression.
3. Give it your best effort every single time.
Psychologist Carol Dweck talks about having a growth mindset and using effort to achieve your goals. You are able to change your mindset, according to Dweck. You can apply this to negotiation by measuring the quality of your performance and not simply the outcomes you achieved as a result.
You may aspire to win your negotiation and achieve the ideal outcome. But this takes time, practice and skills to increase the likelihood of success. Setting performance goals for your negotiation will give you a new way to frame your growth and success. Even if you don’t achieve what you set out to accomplish, you can re-frame the perceived failure and instead focus on the progress you’ve made. This will help motivate you to continue trying and persevering as you get closer to reaching your goals.