Negotiation: from arm wrestling to dancing
When we hear the word negotiation, we often think of haggling. A series of one-upping offers.
“This couch costs $300”
“I’ll pay $50 for it”
“No way, that’s too low”
“OK, I’ll go to $70”,
“Nah, at least 250”,
“100”, “200” “120”
“127 is my final offer”
It looks like a battle. It feels like two people arm wresting, comparing who has the largest biceps and shoulders. Who is more stubborn.
It’s bruteforce and it’s brute.
But who really “won” the negotiation. Was it the person who kept their position better, or the person who found better compromises. What if the person who compromised more only did it in order to make the other person “feel” they won the negotiation. Meanwhile, they were up already at a big win from the beginning and used the negotiation to stretch it out. Or… what if their goal altogether was to make a deal, any deal, in order to get benefits much larger than the deal itself?
For example, when you take a loan with interest, no matter what the amount of the loan, the agency will make money on it, as long as you sign on to it. For them, not giving you a loan is the losing scenario. They win by making any deal, regardless of the price. Any deal is good deal for them.
That is on the next level arm wrestling here. It’s like Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, BJJ for short. If two people have to resolve a dispute by physical force, someone with 5 years of BJJ will have no trouble overpowering THE BEST arm-wrestler in the world, assuming they don’t know martial arts. And that is regardless of the size. Jiu jitsu is a better system, as it uses the whole body, and not just the arm.
Likewise, in negotiation, a person who approaches it as a haggling competition, will get defeated by anyone more advanced, who can understand positions, interests and emotions and can yield them to outmaneuver the haggler and put them haggling against themselves. The haggler wouldn’t even realize what happened to them.
What good is arm wrestling when you’re getting rear-necked chocked?
But we don’t go around figuratively choking out every person that we have a disagreement with. We don’t have have to make them tap out in submission. Especially when there is any kind of relationship on the line- love, friendship, business relationship, or even parent-child relationship. Because if we choke them at all, we stand to lose relationship.
And because, really, they don’t have to lose, for us to win. It’s not a zero-sum game. In most relationships, there is way to have a win-win.
With relationships, it’s more like a dance than a fight. Each person adapts to the other. One person might lead, and another might follow. Then the roles might switch. The speed and the energy vary and are constantly adjusted. It’s a whole body and whole mind experience. We adapt to them in our posture, position, eye contact, tone of voice, thoughts, emotions, incentives and logic. It takes our whole being to do that dance. If the feet are not moving, we lose the rhythm, and the dance falls apart. We engage our feet, we spin and shake and adapt to the other person. We create the dance together, using our whole beings.
They adapt likewise. Both sides want to keep the dance going. Nobody wants to be choked, or arm wrestled when they’re dancing.