What does negotiation have to do with sustainability? A lot – we discovered while attending Lelia Gowland’s negotiation workshop at Treo’s upstairs gallery last week. We wanted to share the amazing lessons we gained from Gowland Consulting so you too can build relationships that ultimately generate stronger, mutually beneficial outcomes.
Isn’t that what sustainability is all about? Understanding the relationships between our community, environment, and economy, in order to discover the best long-term possible outcomes? Whether you are negotiating your next contract or climate change policy, negotiation is something all of us in sustainable business development should care about. Here are the top 5 lessons we learned:
- Negotiation is something you do every day. This may seem obvious to some and a surprise to others, but chances are, you have already negotiated today. If you are a mom, you probably know this well (“you can go to bed now, or you can pick up your toys and go to bed in 15 minutes”). From your order at a local coffeeshop to a signed agreement with a contractor, negotiations happen all the time – all the more reason to be able to identify when you are in a negotiation and how you can make it successful.
- Authenticity matters in negotiation. What often makes our negotiations difficult is that it makes us feel we are acting against our own identities. For example, if we view ourselves as someone who creates harmony in the world, we may feel like we can’t negotiate because it feels like we are creating discord or conflict. By being aware of our own styles, tendencies, and voice, we can negotiate in ways that are authentic to ourselves. This is likely to be especially true for for-benefit companies (who are mission driven). It is important to find your own voice in negotiating, and for a peace-maker, this voice can help you negotiate towards mutually beneficial relationships and empower you to take action instead of avoiding it all together.
- Know what scares you. If you are someone who shrinks back at the idea of negotiating, start to ask questions. What scares you? By identifying this, you may be able to move forward and overcome your fear. Get out of the feeling by thinking it through and you will feel more empowered to move forward.
- Ground yourself in research. One of the most important things you can do in a negotiation is be aware of all the information at stake. This takes the negotiation out of the “feeling realm” and into the “factual realm.” By focusing on the facts, you will be able to make better decisions and stronger negotiations because your perspective is grounded in research.
- Ask Questions. When in doubt in a negotiation, ask questions.This will help you gain new insight for yourself or the person you are negotiating with. It also helps you demonstrate interest in what the other person has to say.
Thank you, Lelia, for helping us all be better negotiators! By doing so we can not only uplift our own personal goals, but do so also in a way that benefits those with whom we are in relationship with at work or at home.