Negotiating seems tough to many people because they assume it is an exclusively competitive interaction. We tend to focus on examples like buying a car or house or negotiating a salary, and overlook many daily conversations where we coordinate resources and negotiate. Negotiations—the everyday ones and the high-stakes ones—are conversations where people explore joint opportunities and the possible benefits for each person. They are as cooperative as they are competitive.
To be your genuine self you need to draw on your cooperative strengths as much as your competitive ones in order to balance these two dimensions of yourself. We all have these strengths in our repertoire of experience; we can be genuinely cooperative and competitive in the context of positive relationships. Success comes from building resources together, while ensuring that each person is satisfied with the process and outcome. Your ideas are valuable and may be the key to solutions that drive the retailer’s business strategy, generating value, as well as health-wellness.
What are some ways to cultivate this, before the big meeting or negotiations?
One way to cultivate being genuine before big meetings at work, or in any negotiation, is to mindfully consider situations in the past where you successfully navigated similar conversations. If they were in a different role—as a parent, say—where you might be more confident and ambitious, draw those strengths into the current conversation. As an athlete you might be great at coordinating and getting the entire team on board. As a mentor you might be a whiz at quickly building rapport. Mindfully connect these strengths from disparate identities—wear your many hats—remembering that these are all you. My book Negotiating Genuinely walks you through the metaphor of hats to help you be your best you.
During the “big meeting” what are some tips to stay grounded and true to yourself, while still making sure your needs are heard and that you achieve the result you were looking for?
Emotions, which have a way of arising spontaneously, are typically the most challenging part of critical conversations. Whether these are positive emotions such as empathy, or negative emotions like frustration, they may be helpful to your goals or they may be obstacles. When you mindfully manage emotions in a nonreactive and constructive way, feeling and expressing them, you help move the conversation forward. A five-step process that I call self-narration can help the negotiator lead with emotions.
Why is letting people see all sides of you, your genuine self, beneficial for your success in the workplace?
You don’t necessarily let people see all sides of you. That could make you vulnerable. Rather, you mindfully engage the parts of you that will be most helpful to you and to others. When you become your best self, you open the door for others to be their best; together you can explore opportunities, transcend conflict, and co-create value.
Are there times when being your true self might work against you?
Spontaneous responses might work against you. However, your true self is not necessarily your immediate reaction to a situation. Being your true self is more complex and would lead you to an internal negotiation. When you negotiate from the inside out, adopting a positive approach, you will find a path that creates value and positive outcomes for all.
About Shirli Kopelman
Shirli Kopelman is a leading researcher, expert, and educator in the field of negotiations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Ford School of Public Policy. She holds a PhD in Management and Organizations and an MS in Organization Behavior from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, as well as a BA in Psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is the Executive Director of the International Association for Conflict Management and Faculty Director of Business Practice at the Center for Positive Organizations. Professor Kopelman’s work has been honored with outstanding teaching and prestigious research awards. She publishes in leading academic research journals and her work has been featured in media outlets such as Businessweek, Fortune, and Harvard Business Review. Shirli is author of Negotiating Genuinely: Being Yourself in Business, published in 2014 by Stanford University Press. Grounded in her strong academic background and hands-on experience with managers, Kopelman’s Negotiating Genuinely® framework enables people to draw on their leadership strengths to co-create internal and external opportunities that maximize economic profits in a sustainable way, while fostering well-being.
Stay tuned for more tips from Shirli!