Challenges in the right context can be fun, invigorating and ways to learn and grow. I remember learning Spanish and loving the opportunity to try to communicate with a native Spanish speaker, as challenging as it was to get the nerve up to try to start the conversation. I’d ask them to point out my errors because I was still learning. My lack of fluency was my obstacle, but my errors became my pathway to fluency, which I have since achieved and use almost daily.
In negotiation, obstacles are generally just seen as annoying at best and completely overwhelming at worst. Even worse, they often stop us from even attempting to negotiate, and the alternative to negotiation can often involve neglect and even abuse of one or more of the parties that are going to be impacted by a decision.
So how can we transfer a positive even eager attitude to taking on negotiation challenges and obstacles? You must change the context in which you see those obstacles. To help you see obstacles differently, the Camp Negotiation Management System instructs you to create a checklist as preparation to all negotiations and serves to change the context in which you see obstacles in the negotiation. The checklist reframes the obstacles in the following ways:
1) The checklist shrinks obstacles: To start the checklist, you create a mission and purpose for your negotiations that sets your long-term aim. It is based on your vision of the features and benefits you want to bring to our adversary. You know why you are doing what you are doing, and not getting hung up on fixing everything right away because you know that what matters is that you end up where you want to go in the long run. Obstacles that seemed large up close are now viewed at a distance and effectively shrink.
2) The checklist identifies obstacles and brings them into clearer focus: You come up with a problem list, or a list of obstacles to the negotiation, and get clarity about what you and your adversary are facing. You may not know how you are going to deal with the obstacles, but knowing what they are and having them all laid out reduces uncertainty and fear.
3) The checklist guides us to so we know where to start on obstacles: Obstacles or problems are prioritized to match the adversary’s vision of their importance and urgency. You start with what is most important to them. Your approach to obstacles is therefore organized to make you effective in the world of your adversary.
4) The checklist makes sure you don’t get distracted from other tasks that are more essential to negotiation than obstacles. In the Camp system, you ask for what we want, and you always get it, because you want a decision from the adversary, usually yes or no to a proposal. You do not create new obstacles by pushing for agreement. And any obstacles that exist must not distract you from your most essential task in a negotiation, asking for what you want.
5) The checklist provides you with the tools to create vision that will solve the problems to overcome obstacles. You create the questions and statements that you will make to build the vision required to face and overcome obstacles. It is the artistic side of negotiation, and at Camp it is often referred to as painting vision, with the words you choose acting as your brush strokes.
If you learn to execute a Camp checklist, you will not be intimidated by obstacles again. In fact, you will come to want to negotiate sooner rather than later by which time your procrastination may have hurt your position, not to mention added to your stress.
Please share your thoughts.