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How to Wake Her?

By Felix Miller

Negotiation Expert, Rational Games, Inc.

Prince Florimund finds the Sleeping Beauty, will he wake her?
Prince Florimund finds the Sleeping Beauty

I am fairly sure we have all seen the famous graph much loved by economists, in which supply and demand meet at a magical price point depending on quantity & price. That is the ‘sweet spot’ for any business decision.

There are reportedly only two ways to get to that price point. One is auctioning (English, Reverse, Dutch, Japanese, open-outcry or sealed bids) a procedure which has been studied widely since the 1950s. The second is simply negotiating, an option which has, by comparison, been relatively ‘overslept’ compared to the first.

But the power of this kind of negotiation is unparalleled, indeed taking on fairy-tale proportions, as evidenced by the definitive data drawn from negotiated results. Certainly, that is so to name just a few legendary examples, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the creation of NATO, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the nascence of the European Union. Almost any war ends with a negotiation and almost every peace starts with one.

The same skill that we use daily when we negotiate our salaries, design commercial deals & contracts, resolve conflict, both big & small, lead ourselves and others and, generally speaking, lead others from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’ regardless of the context.

Understanding why negotiation has been ‘overslept’? Somehow, most of us don’t acknowledge negotiation as a competency that one could reasonably acquire, practice and master, like any other skill.

First ‘invented’ at the Program on Negotiation at HLS in 1983, it’s still a relatively young science that needed time to grow and mature before finding its way into other academic programs and corporations.

Given the endless benefits that this beautiful craft, art and skill offers everyone, we would be well advised to place it at the strategic center of our day-to-day lives, both at work and home. Such a mindset empowers us to get more in life if we can only wake up our own ‘Sleeping Beauty’.

And there is yet another elegant benefit to negotiation: its practice comes at zero opportunity cost. Indeed, we already negotiate many more times a day than we realize. Recognizing that we are already doing it automatically activates our learning curves. Thus, we start practicing and not only making more conscious and proactive decisions daily but also getting more of what we want.

So how to wake her? Although the following answers are not exhaustive, I like to focus on the ‘rule of three’ and therefore the 3 most impactful ways to do so from my perspective:

  1. Acknowledge her power

  2. Appreciate she’s a skill

  3. Train & hone her constantly

Finally, Negotiation owns perhaps the most powerful value proposition of all time:

Negotiation is the skill that allows us to have other people say YES to us whenever we need them to do so.

Comments welcomed!


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