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Knowing Yourself in Intercultural Negotiation; 4 Pillars of International Negotiation

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

Part 2 of 2

Plato included the phrase from the Oracle of Delphi "Know thyself" into his writings and it is excellent practice to do the same when it comes to negotiation.

Pillars 2, 3 and 4 of successful intercultural negotiation are first and foremost about ‘knowing thyself’ before you start to use the same skills and techniques to know the members of the other party

Pillar 2: The people skills

An excellent start to ‘knowing thyself’ is getting to know your own behavioral style. The fastest and most effective way to understand your behavioral style is through a validated psychometric assessment. There are hundreds of psychometric tools in the world, but we love the Everything DiSC® suite of assessments. The Everything DiSC® assessments offer a powerful way to understand how you are wired from a behavioral style point of view. The Everything DiSC® model is also something you can keep 'front of mind' when you are in the thick of a negotiation; it is easy to remember.

Knowing your own behavioral style will help you understand how you might show up in negotiation or what might trigger you when things get tough. Although we highly recommend you complete your own Everything DiSC® Assessment, the Everything DiSC® summary sheet below will give basic insights into what to expect from yourself in negotiation, what negative triggers could happen to you, and what pitfalls you might have to mitigate.

To give a few examples:

  • If your behavioral style is more 'C' oriented, you want to use your expertise to prove your competence. This can be to your advantage in negotiation but can also turn against you if you focus on the details too much.

  • If your behavioral style is 'i' oriented, you might prefer to keep your options open but if you need to bring the negotiation to a close you might have to rehearse how to go against your natural vibe or alternatively, bring a colleague along who is better at closing.

Having a deep understanding of your behavioral style is crucial to understanding what might trigger you while negotiating: Rejection, being seen as incompetent, being taken advantage of, disapproval, relational tension, having to put your foot down, etc. Knowing your own triggers and learning how to navigate them is crucial to up your negotiation game.

Lastly, I want to point out that every behavioral style has limitations, some of these limitations can come in the form of doing too much of what you are good at (e.g., overusing your detail orientation, or overusing your desire for conflict avoidance, overusing keeping your options open, etc.). If these limitations show up in negotiations you can lose credibility, relational credit and potentially the deal. Learning to own your limitations is a crucial part of connecting in a meaningful way across the negotiation table.

Owning your limitations will also give you greater understanding and empathy if the limitations of the party on the other side of the table start showing up during negotiations. Instead of being harsh and critical, use your knowledge of their behavioral style to re-establish neutrality, calm, focus, or create a moment that deflects from an uncomfortable moment.

The Everything DiSC® overview sheet below shows you how different behavioral styles bring different 'ingredients' into the negotiation and knowing what you bring and learning to 'read' the other party is crucial to negotiation success.

Pillar 3: Emotional Intelligence

I have heard people say that in negotiation you must check your emotions at the door. Because of the incredible progress made in neuroscientific research, we have learned that 'checking your emotions at the door' is neurologically impossible. Besides that: it is also plain stupid when it comes to negotiation!

We are emotional human beings and every time we draw a conclusion, make a decision, or get clarity about a situation our brain automatically triggers an emotional response. The amygdala and hypothalamus work so fast that the emotion-related chemicals (neuropeptides) sometimes are already in the bloodstream and the brain before we even become aware of the emotion.

The more we learn to be emotionally aware of ourselves and others, the more we will learn to navigate emotions. This sets us up to neutralize and channel the impact of negative emotions and leverage the presence of positive emotions.

Research has revealed a wide variety of emotional abilities (Emotional Intelligence). Each one of these emotional abilities can be beneficial in negotiation situations.

There are 8 emotional intelligence skills listed below. Most people find 3 - 5 of them relatively easy and the others much more difficult. Being aware of which ones come easily to you and which ones you find more difficult, is a huge game changer in negotiation. Once you learn how to recognize different types of Emotional Intelligence in yourself, you can then use the same techniques to recognize them in others.