The Reflective Negotiator Wins Every Time!

reflective negotiator imageYou prepare for days for an upcoming negotiation. You size up your counterpart six ways ‘til Sunday, you crunch the numbers, and you walk in full of confidence, and then … you walk out with your tail between your legs. It does not go well and you slink back to the office in defeat.

What do you do next? Have a stiff drink? Vow to live another day? Put it out of your mind?

Now imagine this scenario:

You prepare for days for an upcoming negotiation. You size up your counterpart six ways ‘til Sunday, you crunch the numbers, and you walk in full of confidence, and then … it proves a challenging encounter, but you emerge victorious.

What do you do next? Order a bottle of champagne? Celebrate with a night on the town? Crow a bit?

The negotiator who does none of the above, but sits down and painstakingly examines what went wrong and what went right in the negotiation whether the outcome was as satisfying as they hoped or not, and then shares his or her insights with the team, will find their negotiation success increase at the speed of light. First reflect, then celebrate!

A recent study by professors at the Harvard Business School demonstrates that reflection combined with sharing is the surest path to success.

Professors Francesca Gino and Gary Pisano, and their associates, examined three ways of achieving mastery – learning by doing, learning by thinking and learning by sharing. And guess what? More than anything else, reflection upon one’s success or failure and sharing insights thus gleaned with others was the best and quickest way of improving performance.

One of their more intriguing experiments involved newly-hired employees of a business-process outsourcing company based in Bangalore, India. The employees were divided into three groups called “control” (which was the learning by doing group), “reflection” and “sharing.” Midway through their training the employees in the “reflection” group were asked to spend the last 15 minutes of their day writing down their thoughts about what they learned that day, while the employees in the “sharing” group were asked to do the same and to spend 5 minutes explaining their notes to a colleague.

Over the course of the month, the performance of the “reflection” group was 22.8 percent better than the “control” group, while that of the “sharing” group was 25 percent better. This even though, technically, the “control” group had 15 minutes more of training each day, when the others sat down to process.

I see this with myself and the clients I coach. Reflecting after every negotiation not only helps understand what we need to do differently, but it pumps us up to get it “right” at the next negotiation. So, in short, thinking costs nothing, but a few minutes spent in careful analysis and reflection after every negotiation will surely lead to significant gains down the road.

Remember to Negotiate Smart™ (and “like” this post on LinkedIn)!

Complete the form below