Feel Your Guts!
A couple of years ago a business partner of mine proposed starting a new business with a third person. I liked the idea of that business and I accepted going to a meeting to get to know the third person. After the meeting I told my partner that I couldn't do business with that man and if he did not get rid of him, I would be out. Of course he asked me what I had against that person. I said: "I think he has a hidden agenda and he is lying to us." But I couldn't give my partner any arguments or proofs. It was just a feeling.
The result was that I lost that business and I had a hard time with my partner who accused me of a bad attitude and a lack of trust. In the long run, however, I won, because after six months my partner came to me and told me that indeed that person had a personal agenda to use our names and connections for his personal interests. From there on my partner started to listen to me when I had "feelings".
"Listen to your inner voice", "trust your instincts", "feel your guts" are some advice that we often hear from experienced negotiators if we want to improve our performance in negotiation. These are the same qualities that almost everybody recognizes as a differentiator between a good negotiator and let's say a rookie. Good negotiators always use their instincts successfully. Right!
What is that instinct and how does it work? Have you heard about curricula that is teaching about instinct in the formal educational system? I haven't! That's why if you ask 10 people the first question above, you'll probably get 10 different answers.
In this article you will find mine.
First of all, "instincts" have nothing to do with the mind. And here is the big problem. Our society is built "around" our minds. At the societal level we talk only about systems. A system is a mind construction. Legal system, economic system, educational system, health system, organizational system and so on are paradoxical. They are created for humans. But when you are talking about them you find yourself talking about anything but humans. So in this environment of societal construction it is clear that mind will prevail.
That's how everything is being analyzed and evaluated at the mind's level. It is very hard to justify (this is a contradiction in terms because justifying is by default a rational process) a negotiation result with a "feeling". Everybody wants - including us - concrete data and figures to analyze a situation. And this is mostly what we do in preparing a negotiation. We gather information and analyze it in order to make decisions; we are perfectly using our minds to compare - this is the primordial task of our minds. By comparing different information, data, situations, figures and so on, we make decisions. Some call this analysis. Sometimes we use our imagination - another useful task of our minds - to find solutions. Some call this creativity.
But what if we don't have at our disposal all the data we need? Do we not make decisions? Do we stall until we have all the information? Possibly! But it's clear that in most cases we have deadlines. We have to act! What's left in the game for us in this situation? Only "instinct"!
Under the concept of "instinct" in our decision-making process lie two notions: intuition and inspiration. Both of these notions have one purpose only. They are instruments for seeking information. Properly used they offer you that type of information that gives you the feeling of certainty. You know! Despite evidence, against all arguments and most of all - contrary to what everybody else thinks or believes, you know! And that feeling is indestructible.
Feel Your Guts! By Radu Ionescu
Copyright © 2012 Radu Ionescu
Copyright © 2012 The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine (September, 2012)