First Bosphorus Bridge in IstanbulAre the negotiating parties in your next negotiation in another country or from other countries? Would you like to utilize a problem-solving mentality at an upcoming conflict management situation?

See below Şirin’s interview with Dr. Karen Walch, Co-Creator of Quantum Negotiation certification and coaching program, Partner at Clair-Buoyant Leadership™ and Emeritus faculty at Thunderbird School of Global Management. She is also a member of the International Coaching Federation and the International Applied Improv Network to learn more about improvisation and creativity in uncertain and unpredictable situations.

Şirin: I know you have your way of defining what negotiation is. Would you please share here your definition of negotiation?

Karen: Any time you need something in life, you engage with others to get what you need. This is negotiation. That means any time you have to share limited resources, like time or money, or you are creating something new, or solving problems you are in a negotiation. Negotiation is a fundamental activity to get what you need in life. Negotiation does not have to be intimidating or anxiety-inducing because it is the deliberate practice of getting your needs met. Sometimes Negotiation, big N, is an event that takes place in a boardroom, or at a car dealership. However, whenever we create new ways of doing things, share limited budget resources at home and work, or cooperate to solve pressing problems, we are negotiating, small N .

Şirin: When is a good time to negotiate and when does a condition not lend itself to fair negotiations?

Karen: The ideal negotiation is one where you have common and converging mutual needs with your counterpart, such as a buyer needs what a seller produces . The most difficult, and some would say impossible, time to negotiate fairly is when one party has a monopoly of authority and resources, whether its economic, organizational or social. This means they have all the leverage – or the levers to reward and punish you, and you have little to no alternatives to your dependency. Where a monopoly of power exists or the game of psychological warfare is too intimidating, both the process and the outcome of negotiation can lead to very unfair outcomes. However, Quantum Negotiators are able to explore the invisible sources of power and leverage in any negotiation situation to convert what looks like a monopoly or a nonnegotiable situation into one that is negotiable. This is done with intentional preparation.

Şirin: What are the critical stages of a negotiation process?

Karen: The pre-negotiation and preliminary stage of a negotiation are the first stages overlooked by many negotiators. Most negotiators prepare for the opening stage to assert their firm, optimistic first anchor or most aggressive proposal. However, the most successful negotiators do their pre-negotiation preparation by exploring not only what they want, but also why they want the desired outcome and how they will behave and engage with a counterpart. For example, it is important to explore why a purely self-focus, winner-versus-loser approach will not harness the full potential and creativity of a negotiation for a potential partnership. When pre-negotiation planning mindfully focuses on how to develop “power with” a counterpart vs. “power over”, negotiaors are able to create both in the opening and exploration stage a much more sustainable, prosperous and satisfying experience. Clarity about one’s own emotional, social, physical and sense of purpose increases the comfort and ability to lead others to cooperate and create value for all parties. Once parties explore in the preliminary stage the range of concerns and issues that they both have, they then can state their first proposals and establish the gaps they often have regarding their solutions. The more trust and engagement the parties have with one another, the more they can expand the pie and explore a range of potential solutions rather than defaulting to a battle of wills to eventually get agreement. Once all the options are explored, the closing stage can be fair and intentional based on the clarity of the needs of all parties.

Şirin: Which stage do you find is most consequential and why?

Karen: The most critical stages are the pre-negotiation and preliminary stages because when a negotiator has clarity about their needs, values and how they want to behave they have the anchoring they need to listen and engage a counterpart. With clarity of one’s own needs in the pre-negotiation stage, negotiators are able to guide and lead others to explore the nature of the potential needs of the relationship. This kind of clarity is like an anchor to a buoy which is required to meet the challenges when sharing limited resources, creating new unknown opportunities and getting things done under pressure. Under the constant demands and limited time found in most negotiations, negotiators can style shift and be more resilient — they can right themselves even when tossed around in the “turbulent waters” of negotiation. Mindfulness and reflection on the human elements have become increasingly the most important strategic requirements for negotiation today.

Şirin: How do international/global negotiations differ from negotiating in your home-country conditions and what kind of knowledge, skills and perspectives are important to succeed?

Karen: Cross national negotiations can take many of us by surprise since the way we value time, silence, physical space, or how we behave can differ across countries. If for example, you have lived and worked with a fixed time culture and you begin to work with others from a fluid time culture, you may experience some disappointment. Just because you had been rewarded and expected to value fixed time in your own culture does not mean this will be rewarded and reinforced in a fluid time culture. This can create a lot of frustration, judgment, disappointment — a general range of negative emotions. Therefore, cognitive skills in global negotiation includes a deeper understanding of how complex and contradictory the history may be in some countries, and how business is done in different parts of the world. A skill and passion for adventure and diversity require a level of self-assurance and curiosity in cross cultural settings. Because the preferences about communication, time, and physical space, for example, may differ from your own, it is necessary to stay optimistic and curious to avoid the trap of negative judgments about those who hold different points of view about how to “appropriately” behave in negotiation.

New social, challenging environments will require more diplomatic and intercultural skills of empathy and engagement of others where there are cultural gaps. Global negotiation skills are needed to coordinate more complex and integrated issues than ever before. Everything moves at a speed and in volumes that would have been inconceivable just a decade ago. It is no wonder that our human nervous system is often anxious and uncertain in global negotiations . Successful negotiators have learned that mastery of interdependence is a key skill to get what you need– including tangible and intangible goals, and collective and personal ones. Like masterful bilingual speakers who can “code switch” from one language to another, successful negotiators are able to shift their style in diverse and unpredictable situations. The most critical step toward this powerful behavioral skill is awareness of our own “codes”, expectations, and values and how to achieve shared goals by shifting styles when engaging with others.

At StrategicStraits, we specialize in global business solutions. Our interconnected world poses more and more opportunities to partner and collaborate. This also leads to diverse problem or conflict situations that can be resolved with the right mindset and sills.

We thank Dr. Karen Walch for her insights and sharing her expertise, and look forward to connecting with everybody interested in this topic at a webinar (live Q&A session) on Thursday, May 23.

Please join with your questions regarding an upcoming negotiation or conflict management situation ready to be posted in the chat box in Zoom.

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Karen Walch Tmbn PhotoDr. Karen S. Walch is a Partner at Clair-Buoyant Leadership™ and author of best seller Quantum Negotiation: The Art of Getting What You Need®.  She is an Emeritus faculty at Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Karen’s research and coaching specialization is in social interaction skills of negotiation, collaboration, influence, and inclusion. Her facilitation and coaching are focused on developing leadership behaviors for maximum personal and organizational impact in a disruptive global economy.

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