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I would not say I had been tabula rasa, before I started the course. Of course, I had numerous negotiations before I read the first pages of the course books and other materials. In fact, I can boast of being quite a successful negotiator, though I have often had failures in this area. I should also add I did not sign multimillion contracts. I negotiated with friends, relatives, teachers, etc.
Lum (2010) stresses that it is crucial to understand the other party’s needs. I used to think I did take into account my opponent’s needs and aspirations. However, now I understand that back then I was aware of an insignificant part of what a successful negotiator needs. I agree that I can be compared to a clean wall bombarded by colorful water balls. Now I am ready to share feelings of the painted wall.
People behind Negotiators
First of all, I should admit that Lum’s (2010) ideas and tips impressed me most. For instance, it is rather obvious that a successful negotiator will never ignore the other party’s needs and aspirations. These needs can help design the necessary strategy. However, Lum (2010) states that it is sometimes helpful to leave the needs and interests aside, and focus on the person behind the opponent. Notably, Thompson (2011) also stresses that the negotiator should never forget that he/she is dealing with people, not machines.
When the debate is too heated and when no agreement is probable, it is important to leave the point aside (Lum, 2010). Admittedly, when people get too emotional they simply cannot hear each other. No negotiation is possible if the parties do not listen to each other. I have already tried this strategy and I was quite surprised to find out it does work. I guess this understanding made me more flexible. I now understand when it is important to hold, and when I can continue as the agreement is likely.
Apart from developing proper interpersonal communication with the opponent, it is also important to understand what you can never accept. Lum (2010, p. 80) calls this “no-agreement alternatives”. I have often shopped at markets. I often moved farther just to come back and find out that the thing I liked so much had been sold.
Now I understand that it is essential to define the bottom and be ready to leave if no agreement is possible. However, Barbara Braham (2006) also notes that it is necessary to not what victory is. I used to be afraid of moving farther when negotiating. Now I understand that it is necessary to define other options before you start negotiating. Being prepared properly means a lot. Now I start planning before I initiate any negotiations. I analyze any option and I am ready for several scenarios at a time. Of course, this knowledge made me flexible as well.
My Unique Approach
I was also impressed by Lum’s (2010) identification of particular approaches. I have always thought I can accommodate in various situations. Lum’s (2010) five approaches helped me to systemize my own ideas. When getting ready for any negotiation, I try to choose the most appropriate approach. Moreover, I try to analyze a number of possible scenarios. In many cases, I choose compromising and collaborating. Importantly, I think I can feel the approach chosen by my opponent. This helps me influence him/her more successfully.
I believe the ability to switch to another approach is one of the most valuable skills for any negotiator. It is also important to feel when the opponent has switched. The present course has helped me understand that and acquire a lot of valuable skills.
What the Wall Does Feel
I think the comparison with the wall and color balls is very precise as I did feel as if I was bombarded by knowledge which changed me. However, the change is manifested in at least three dimensions. Of course, the gained knowledge and skills have changed my ways. I have become a more patient and attentive negotiator. Every new color ball left certain traits, layer by layer. I started listening to my opponents carefully. I never initiate negotiations without planning. I can use various techniques and strategies as they are reflected on my surface, so-to-speak.
As for the other dimension, it seems the paint penetrated in the very texture of the wall and made it more flexible. Now I am not afraid of changes. I am flexible enough to switch to different approaches and styles. I can feel when my opponents exploit another tactic and I can adjust to the new environment. I am also open to new knowledge. I understand that there is still much to be learnt and I am ready to learn and practice.
On balance, it is necessary to note that the course did change me as color balls could change a wall. The three-dimensional change made me a better negotiator who can plan, listen, accept and change. The course was full of valuable experiences for me. I acquired important knowledge and skills. The materials analyzed and discussions held were the color balls which made the wall (i.e. me) more colorful (i.e. skilled) and more flexible (i.e. experienced).
Braham, B. (2006). Tips on how to negotiate effectively. Web.
Lum, G. (2010). The negotiation fieldbook: Simple strategies to help you negotiate everything. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Thompson, L.L. (2011). Mind and heart of the negotiator. New York, NY: Prentice Hall.