The end of our series on The Secret Handshake: Mastering The Politics of the Business Inner Circle, if fast-approaching. We have covered the majority of the book thus far, and have looked at topics ranging from how to read between the lines to last week’s post on how to cultivate influence. Taken together, these topics are the stepping stones on your path to being able to access the secret handshake. This week, we will be discussing a component that is absolutely necessary if you ever want to reach the secret handshake: how to negotiate the politically savvy way.
Why is negotiating so powerful? According to Dr. Reardon, author of The Secret Handshake, effective leaders and negotiators, when told something cannot be done, will actively seek ways to get it done. So, how does one become an expert negotiator? It begins with a skill we’ve encountered many times throughout this series: listening. Attentive listening leads to gaining knowledge, and as we all know, knowledge is power. It is imperative you know as much as you can about the situation at hand, the players who are involved, and who fits where, in order to negotiate successfully. So, what are some steps you can take to become a master negotiator?
Being able to reflect and realize if you are, or aren’t, the best person to negotiate the deal will get you extremely far. Understanding that perhaps there is a person better suited to negotiate this particular deal is extremely beneficial. According to Dr. Reardon, there are different negotiating styles, and sometimes these styles do not mesh. Understanding your own negotiating style is therefore of the utmost importance. According to Dr. Reardon, there are four styles: achievers (aim is to win, go straight to the heart of the issue); analytical (speak in terms of priorities, walk people through their reasoning); motivators (find creative ways of reaching solutions, express enthusiasm); mediators (help people find ways to agree).
- Prioritize your thoughts
If you head into a negotiation without knowing what goals are most important to you, you may as well skip the negotiation! In addition to having your priorities straight, it’s important to have contingency plans too, just in case plan A) didn’t work out as you had hoped.
- Look for connections
Just like persuasion, the key to negotiation is to understand where the other party is coming from. It’s crucial to know what the other side wants and what they’re afraid of. It’s also crucial to know how the other parties’ goals fit in with yours.
- Be memorable
Astute negotiators know how to get and hold attention and subsequently focus it on themselves and their ideas or goals. Focus on making a positive, memorable impact when you speak; this will get you far.
Negotiating is often a huge part of our day-to-day lives at work, so much so that often we aren’t even aware that we’re doing it. If you can successfully adopt these tips and tricks, think about how much more successful your day-to-day encounters could be! Successful negotiation skills are a crucial part of having access to the secret handshake and should not be taken lightly. Practicing your negotiation skills with colleagues or friends is a great way of putting these tips into practice before trying them in the real world. Just remember: listen, prioritize, connect and stand out!
Reardon, Kathleen Kelley. The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.