Sklover’s Monday Thought: Best Negotiators Practice Empathy

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“The most critical thing in a negotiation is to get inside your opponent’s head and figure out what he or she really wants.”

– Jacob Lew

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Each and every day, we negotiate with others, seeking things both big and small, that we want, we need, and perhaps feel we deserve. The list is endless, as are the ways we go about our negotiating.

It is at work that we most commonly and deliberately negotiate with others, be they customers, employers or colleagues. Workplace negotiations are among the most critical in our lives: in business matters, vendor relations, compensation issues, as to promotions, greater severance or otherwise.

The most common and biggest mistake most people make in their workplace negotiations? Without a doubt, it is focusing their minds and efforts – almost exclusively – on what they want, seek or feel they deserve, almost as if they are wearing blinders.

Instead, the most successful negotiators at work and elsewhere devote their negotiating thoughts and efforts not to what they, themselves, “want, need and feel they deserve,” but rather to what their negotiating counterparts “want, need and feel they deserve.” Though it may sound counter-intuitive, having a strong sense of what “they” want is unquestionably the best key to your getting what “you” want. Yes, it is a practical use of a certain kind of empathy.

Give it some thought. Try it out. What else would motivate someone to give you what you want . . . but their potentially getting what they want?

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