Negotiation and Leadership Speaker
When Did We Stop Listening?
Well, when did we stop listening? It’s a question many experienced negotiation speakers are starting to ask. As a negotiation and leadership keynote speaker, I stress the importance of listening rather than talking.
In fact, prior to many negotiations or conversations, we believe we know what the other person is thinking. Rather than actively listening in the negotiation or indeed, in any business conversation (or even personal chat), many of us bulldoze ahead with our points and assume an absolute grasp of all of the issues. In taking that approach, business discussions or negotiations often fail to meet their objectives.
- “Although we live in an information technology age, we often find ourselves in failure to communicate situations. “– Johnny Tan, Philippine trade unionist and negotiator
As the above quote by Johnny Tan mentions, it is often our failure to communicate that sinks negotiations. We are often so reliant on information we have gleaned online before the negotiation, that we automatically come to the table with an inflexible set of thoughts that don’t account for the other side’s needs and mindset. The negotiation can really go downhill when the other side comes into the meeting behaving in a similar manner
Let’s stop and breathe
Despite this being a digital, technology and “auto-filled” age, please remember that for many thousands of years now, negotiations have relied on “hearing the other person out.” The question I frequently ask of my audiences when I am delivering a motivational speech on negotiation and leadership skills is a simple one with (unfortunately) too many answers:
“How do you listen?”
The usual answer is: “Oh, very well.”
But then I add, “Do you mindfully listen?” That question is normally met with blank stares. Mindfulness, unfortunately, is in short supply these days. We often go into negotiations or meetings with a pre-set group of assumptions. Mindfulness is the opposite of a pre-set, digitized, technology-driven approach.
Borne out of mindfulness meditation, mindful negotiators rely on what they hear; what they observe, how the other side responds rather than reacts, even what they feel. When mindfulness enters into a negotiation, the negotiators become more authentic and in the moment.
I need to interject, of course, that being mindful and actively listening in a negotiation, doesn’t preclude having a given set of desired outcomes and an agenda. However, in actively listening to what the other person is saying, we can achieve greater resilience, reach common ground for easily and thereby leave the negotiation with satisfactory outcomes.
Despite the images we’ve seen of hard-headed, heated, winner-take-all negotiations, the objective we should all aim to achieve is a satisfactory outcome where all sides take away a positive outcome. This is essential for a productive, long-term relationship.
Our digitized world works extremely well for research and fact finding, but it does almost nothing in a negotiation where we must listen, reflect and respond to what is being said. I am not certain of when we stopped listening, but I do know it is never too late to start.
To contact Mike Hourigan, Effective Negotiation and Leadership Speaker for a virtual or in-person presentation, please call Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.