Negotiation is a critical leadership skill. We are not all born with it, but you can learn it.
As business leaders we often have to negotiate with clients or employees. We even negotiate in our personal lives.
I was recently asked, along with 14 other members of the Forbes Coaches Council, what skills are important for leaders who want to up their game in negotiations, and how to go about getting those skills.
I share the mistake I see most often, and the quickest path to successful negotiation.
Read more in the Forbes article.
This article originally published on Forbes.com
Entrepreneurs are faced with an endless array of daily decision making. And, if not handled with conscious control and discernment, it can lead to decision fatigue, causing a decrease in productivity, effectiveness and ability to achieve and sustain success.
As a veteran entrepreneur who has conducted business worldwide, I’ve been directly involved in extensive decision making processes, both on my own behalf and as agent for others. I’ve had the opportunity to witness decision making habits of executives of private and publicly traded companies, Fortune 50 company executives (including their legal counsel and primary partners) and solopreneurs.
Through decades of that direct personal experience, I’ve discovered a pattern of what works to deliver the minimum amount of decision making stress and strain possible and the maximum successful outcome.
1. Eliminate and/or minimize daily, nonessential decision making. When it comes to your daily agenda, use self-control to focus only on what is essential. This keeps your mind fresh and sharp, enabling it to think optimally to achieve the highest outcomes.
2. Avoid polarization. When it comes to business agreements, seek out the core values of the company or person you’re making a decision about. Make sure those values are compatible with yours. When core values are in alignment, communication, problem-solving and shared responsibility flow more easily and effortlessly. When they are not aligned, there is a predisposition toward roadblocks, delays or even failure to achieve success.
3. Avoid people-pleasing. There is a natural human tendency to engage in people-pleasing with the people we like as opposed to those we don’t. Liking someone makes it more challenging to say no or to set a boundary when it’s required and can lead to poor decision making. No matter how much you like another person, don’t lower your standards when it comes to doing your homework. It’s business.
4. Assess personality compatibility. If you don’t like someone yet choose to do business with them anyway, you add extra stress, strain and fatigue to the business relationship and can diminish positive returns. Find someone you have more synergy with.
5. Don’t feel pressured to make decisions on someone else’s “need-by” timeline. Rushing your decision making process to accommodate someone else’s timeline is never a good idea. If the timeline can’t be negotiated to match your needs, it’s a sign that it’s not a good match and will lead to other hard-lining behavior in the future.
6. When in any doubt, don’t make a final decision. Making a final decision in spite of lingering doubts is allowing an unconscious or conscious fear to drive your decision. This is an emotional decision, not a rational one, and it often leads to making poor choices. Wait until you are free from doubt.
7. Don’t rush your contract negotiations for any reason. Rushing negotiations is often a sign of being too hungry for success. It means that you are coming from a place of fear or desperation, which will not net you the positive returns you’re seeking. This will only cause a delay in achieving the success that you want or need.
8. Get references, no matter how renowned or grand the recommendation. It’s imperative, in every circumstance, to do your due diligence to make the wisest, risk-averse decision as possible. You need to hear firsthand the answers to your specific questions. Assuming the answers is a risky proposition.
9. Don’t allow fear to rule your decision making process. Fear is an irrational feeling, and not a rational thought. An irrational mindset leads to mistake-making. Take the time to do all the research, investigation and rational analysis prior to making a decision so fear doesn’t override your rational judgment.
10. Get advice, trust your gut and make your own final decisions. Nobody knows your goals, values, wants, needs or point of view like you do. Not even the most seasoned expert is likely coming from the same position as you, which can lead you astray. It’s important to get expert advice, but it’s imperative to make your own decisions to achieve the outcomes that you want and need.
Getting mired in too much decision making can lead to decision fatigue, and therefore, failure. Both Barack Obama and Mark Zuckerberg know this all too well. That’s why they eliminate all the nonessential decisions. When Obama was president, he chose to only wear blue or grey suits every day. “I’m trying to pare down decisions,” he said in an interview. “I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.”
Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg almost always wears a grey T-shirt and jeans for the same reason. “I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community. And there’s actually a bunch of psychology theory that even making small decisions around what you wear, or what you eat for breakfast, or things like that, they kind of make you tired and consume your energy.”
If not made carefully, every decision, big or small, can deplete your time and energy. By consciously and consistently abiding by the top 10 tenets of successful decision making, you’ll optimally be conditioned to avert decision fatigue and achieve maximum returns and success on your energy spent making decisions.
The word “boundary” has a negative connotation these days. And yet, it is a key concept that defines how to achieve successful relationships of every kind. Every person has limits. Each person’s limits are different based upon many factors. There is no one-size fits all personal or professional boundary. This is what can make relationships risky.
Entering into any type of relationship, agreement, partnership or contract requires a lot of due diligence and even when due diligence has been performed at the highest levels, there is always inherent risk present. You just don’t know what the other person is capable of doing when faced with challenges that might arise during the engagement. Even in the absence of challenges, the other party may fail to perform.
I’ve been an entrepreneur all my adult life and have conducted business all over the world with small, mid-sized, fortune 500 companies and solopreneurs. The risk is all the same, but the damages that can occur as a result of not knowing, setting and honoring your own boundaries can vary from minor to catastrophic. The bigger the fish, the greater the potential loss. But, regardless of the size of the fish, the sheer waste of time and energy expended to correct the breach is a drain financially, mentally, emotionally and physically.
The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything. ~Warren Buffett
Here’s How to Know, Set and Honor Your Boundaries to Maximize Your Success and Minimize Your Losses:
1. Know Yourself and Your Values. What behaviors are unacceptable to you? What’s you rule about 2nd chances? Do you allow 1 strike, 2 strikes, or none? What’s your #1 core value that if someone can’t abide, you walk away?
2. Don’t Violate Your Own Values. If you can’t honor your core values than you can expect nobody else will and it is the surest way to fail.
3. Walk Your Talk. If your behavior isn’t consistent with your promises or in general is inconsistent, the weakness will be noted and capitalized upon.
4. Clearly Communicate Your Requirements and Expectations. Take the time and make the effort to clearly set forth your requirements. This is an area where I see many companies and solopreneurs fail which causes them loss and hardship which could have been avoided.
5. Don’t Bluff. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you set a clear boundary with a promise to seek remedy, then follow through. Making false threats only escalates the problem, is a character trait of a poor leader and set’s you up for potentially even greater losses.
6. Fearlessly Set Your Boundaries. Learn to say no. Don’t let fear make your decisions for you. If you’ve been wronged, harmed or damaged by wrongful behavior of another party, then step out of fear and into action. Nonaction or delaying action can cause you to suffer far greater consequences than standing up for yourself early on.
In Closing My Shocking Confession: A CFO of a major national bank had just committed perjury against me in a take-over attempt to seize everything I owned! WTF!?? Even my well-seasoned attorneys couldn’t believe it. My very expensive team of attorneys immediately told me I’d get crushed and lose everything if I tried to go up against the giant with the truth. They told me to cut my losses and payout the huge amount of money and hand over the assets that they were demanding. I was exhausted after months and months of court proceedings. I was about to throw in the towel, when I thought about how my letting this guy get away with this was going to give him the confidence to keep doing this to others. I had to take the risk and honor my core values which included honesty and having a social conscience. Exhausted, I dug deep, sorted through mountains of data and correspondence and found the one bit of evidence that confirmed his fraud. Fearlessly, I reported the individual to the appropriate authorities and sent the evidence along with a letter to the founder of the bank (against all attorney advice). He immediately fired the CFO and dropped the claim. I later received a thank you letter from an executive within the bank stating that both the employees and customers had endured years of abuse from this man.
Here’s the unvarnished, uncensored truth about success. Even if you’re a rock star sales person who knows how to sell, if you don’t put at least as much effort into taking the deal and your client relationship successfully through the back end post-closing process, you will not ultimately achieve the success that you initially thought you had “in the bank”. And, any gain realized at closing, could be lost, or even worse, cost you more than you initially banked.
I don’t want you to think this post only relates to business, because it relates virtually to every aspect of your life. The success of your life (personal, financial, physical, emotional and spiritual) is contingent upon an on-going commitment to actively engage in efforts to do what you need to do to keep all your affairs operating in good working order.
Too many times, I’ve either witnessed or been a part of a deal gone bad because someone who sold something dropped the ball on delivering the goods, services or warranties that were promised.
Baby, if you ain’t got back end, you’re gonna regret it down the road. It just ain’t worth the risk. Take the time to take care of the deal, transaction, contract, relationship, or account. If you do, instead of regrets, you’ll achieve maximum sustainable success…and be a whole lot happier, healthier and wealthier in the long run.
You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise. ~ Patricia Fripp
Here Are the Top Six Things You Must Do to Achieve the Optimal Back End Strategy for Long-Term Success:
1. Live the Reality the Sales Cycle Does Not Stop at Closing the Sale. See it as phase 2 of building a successful long-term relationship and nurture it.
2. Maintain A Balanced Achievement of Pursuing New Sales and Servicing Existing Customers. Repeat business is the biggest payout you can achieve. If you’re only focusing on new sales and new leads, you’ll shortchange your success.
3. Realize Achieving a Successful Deal Is Found in the Details. Fearlessly pay attention to the details of the deal. Many people fear losing a deal if they assert their boundaries on deal points and contract terms.
4. Be Honest with Yourself and Others. Don’t offer something that you realistically can’t manage to maintain over the term.
5. Value and Prioritize Your Relationships Over Money. When you care more about people than money, you will begin to see both your wealth and well-being skyrocket.
6. Habitually Go the Extra Mile. Exceed in delivering more service and value than necessary or expected.
At the end of the day, your relationships are what makes you or breaks you. Whether it’s your relationship with yourself, others or God; as you consistently and continuously serve, appreciate and value them, they will, in turn, serve you by adding long- term value to your wealth and well-being. If you got back end, they’ll in turn, cover yours.
In Closing My Shocking Confession: I had just signed a long- term lease agreement with a great company to provide their product to my enterprise. The terms of the deal allowed them hefty earn outs and commissions during the life of the contract which would far exceed the purchase price. Both the provider and I were very excited about our new relationship and we sailed through the closing. They banked the purchase price. And, within 60days, all the problems began. A whole host of issues arose from not having the support staff as promised, to constantly charging for non-contract driven items. After months of friendly attempts to get them back on track, they finally come forward in stating they didn’t have what they had promised and didn’t have the resources to deliver on the contract. However, they expected me to honor the terms of the contract by solving and financing their problems for them! Their belief that they “had me over the barrel” for all the time, effort and expense I’d invested, emboldened them to attempt to extort more from me. They didn’t believe I would walk away. I’m sure you can guess what I did? I cut my losses and got out. And, legally recouped cash.
This article originally published at Forbes.com
Entrepreneurs are routinely reminded that they need to “stay hungry” to sustain competitive advantage and success. Though that may be true, what you don’t always hear is that there is a real and present danger in becoming too hungry for success.
The difference between being hungry and too hungry can be summed up in one word: discernment. When you’re hungry for success, you are driven to go to great lengths to achieve your objectives — short of sacrificing your boundaries, values or integrity. But in being too hungry for success, desire overtakes discernment. You dive headfirst into dangerous territory where managed risk is no longer present.
In my many decades coaching, from Main Street to Wall Street, I’ve borne direct witness to the consequences of being too hungry for success. The financial and personal losses ranging from mild to life-threatening are consequences that can be avoided if one learns to recognize the warning signs
How do you know when being hungry is manifesting into being too hungry? Here are the top five signs.
1. You desperately make decisions: High achievers often feel pressure to outperform and prove themselves to others — at an accelerated pace at that. In a too-hungry state, your ability to maintain rational analysis amid challenges or crises is compromised, resulting in a false self-narrative that justifies unethical conduct to solve problems.
2. You’re impatient: When you’re too hungry, you take imprudent action, rationalizing that you must do something right now. Successful entrepreneurs understand the prudence in waiting for the right opportunity.
3. You have false pride: In a normal hungry-for-success state, you care more about successfully solving problems and overcoming challenges than about how you are being perceived, even if that means exposing your losses or mistakes. In a too-hungry state, ego rears its head, causing leaders to care more about the opinions of others. That includes shutting out those who can help them during critical times.
4. You lack faith: When you’re too hungry for success, you don’t make time to develop or practice habits that lead to maintaining positivity, confidence, faith and hope. Devoid of faith, you fail to gain the courage, strength, endurance, inspiration and direction drawn from having the mindfulness or spiritual practice necessary to grow and sustain success.
5. You’re a workaholic: In a too-hungry state, you prioritize work above everything, including your own and others’ wellbeing. You falsely believe you can’t afford to take a break, lest you risk failure.
Here’s a very important fact to know about becoming too hungry for success: Every single person can get into that state of being. In my book, I share real-life stories of good, ethical people who slipped into the too-hungry-for-success state, resulting in avoidable hardships. One of these stories is about a very successful entrepreneur — a charismatic president of his church — who got so angry and tired of being falsely accused of a petty crime that he began to fight back unethically. His justification was that because these people did him wrong, they deserved to be treated the way they treated him.
The takeaway here is that the pathway to prevention is to never allow yourself to become too much of anything, whether it’s hungry, angry, lonely or tired. What does that mean? Recognize and honor your most valuable asset (you) by maintaining healthy habits of self-care, no matter what is or isn’t happening in your life. Optimal self-care is doing all the things that you would advise your child or client to do to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit.
Become vigilant in recognizing the too-hungry-for-success warning signs — and when they do begin to manifest, halt. Stop for a time-out to refuel yourself via rest, relaxation, sound nutrition, exercise and meditation. Your body needs to regain an objective state of mind. There is no risk in halting, only reward.