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The Negotiation Blog

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-angry-caveman-image19764879My ancestors really screwed up my negotiation style.  Yours too.  I mean, my ancestors didn’t screw you, but yours sure did… those bastards. I can prove it too, but you’ll have to bare with a short history lesson first.

Human beings have been around for about 200,000 years and our evolution traces back 2.5 million, according to a 20 second google search.  If you figure that over the centuries our ancestors probably procreated on average at the age of around 15 or 16, that means we are at least 12,500 generations old.  In other words, all of us have around 25,0000 direct ancestors, each of which passed along a genetic footprint to us. That’s a lot of footprints.  Kind of makes you feel dirty, doesn’t it?

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If there’s anything I remember from my undergraduate and graduate level economics classes it’s the relationship between business growth and capital investment. That, and there is some kind of problem with lemons.

Take that with a grain of salt though.  I didn’t do so well in economics.  I was more of a “The Art of Listening”, and “Understanding Planet Earth” kind of guy.

If you’re thinking of following in my footsteps, let me save you the trouble and sum up what I learned in non-nerd/ fruit speak:  good businesses make good investments, and bad businesses make bad investments.

I just saved you 2 years and 72 grand in Ivy League tuition.  You’re welcome.

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thrangu-monastery-final-dayIn 2005 I became the first foreigner to live in the 1300 year old Thrangu Monastery in Tibet.  For 3 months I lived with 260 Buddhist monks in the ancient Monastery, on the side of a mountain in Kham, eastern Tibet.  After an unforgettable 90 days, it’s a mystery to me why foreigners have ever been allowed back.

Here are some surprising things you may not know about Tibetan monks: They eat copious amounts of meat, they do not completely reject material possessions (they have a particular interest in nice watches) and they love NBA basketball.  That may not be true across Tibet, but it was certainly the case in Thrangu.

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Is your enthusiasm bad for business?  If you’re on the client facing side of things, there’s a good chance that it is.  Take this recent article from sales guru and all around stand up guy Bill Caskey entitled “Too much eagerness.  Bad for clients.  Bad for you” where he pushes back on the myth that being an enthusiastic, eager salesperson helps people close deals.  More often than not, Caskey explains, it’s the cause of more lost deals than won deals.  This, of course, goes against most of what salespeople are taught-  let your passion shine through, convey emotion etc.  So what are we left with?  “The unenthusiastic salesperson”?  Sounds like a real recipe for success, I know.

But the truth is, times have changed.  Nobody needs or wants the bubbling energy and faux enthusiasm of the smooth talking salesperson of yesteryear.  We’re looking for something different now.  We’re still looking for someone friendly, and knowledgeable, yes.  But above all, we do business with people that are thoroughly committed to helping us solve the problems that matter to us.  And 9 times out of 10, enthusiasm and eagerness do more to derail that process than anything else.

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Ever notice that the harder you try to influence someone, the more closed minded they seem to become?  Realized that as you make better and better arguments, the less willing to listen some people get?  Me too.  And it drives me bananas.

While it may be true that the (insult of choice) sitting across from us is being pig headed, there’s often another reason why they’re shutting us down: We’re more stubborn than we think we are.

Our barrage of persuasive facts and compelling evidence often only serves to show people how certain we are of ourselves, not how great our proposal or idea is.

It’s easier to influence others when you show them you’re open to influence as well.  Talk less, listen more, and ask questions you don’t already know the answers to.