• Successful Negotiations

    Mastering Your Mindset for Successful Negotiations

    This is a guest blog post by FX Risk Consultant Pascale Hansen.

    We all negotiate, from cradle to grave. Some of these negotiations can be life-changing in either our career or personal life. Ideally, we aim to create win-win negotiations every time, but the reality is that negotiations often get heated, competitive, or derailed because of intent, mindset or the underlying feelings driving our of asking yourself these questions.

    In theory, a win-win negotiation means the negotiating parties have reached an agreement after fully accounting for each others’ interests. It’s essential that both parties feel positive about the negotiation once it’s over to help maintain a healthy relationship.

    This is why the style of any negotiation is critical. Angry outbursts, sarcastic comments and inappropriate displays of emotion undermine the rational basis of negotiations.

    Having the right mindset, with emotional control (emotional mastery) and a personal game plan to reset when tension starts to build accounts for 80% of successful negotiations.

    The Mindset for Successful Negotiations & Win-Win Outcomes

    When entering a negotiation, most people focus on being prepared in terms of having done your research and compiling all the facts. However, the best research is pointless without the right mindset.

    My best and successful negotiations have been the ones where I over-prepared, stayed focused on the desired result, and prepared myself to be emotionally detached from the outcome.

    I always aim to do my very best but I disallow myself from imagining the worst possible scenario and getting stressed about potential negative outcomes. If the stakes are very high and I begin to feel the stress creeping in, I remind myself that I’m not a neurosurgeon, so no one is going to die however badly I may perform.

    That helps me move back into my calm, rational zone.

    Maintaining Focus

    Although it’s difficult to describe the specific order of events in an interaction as fluid as a negotiation dialogue, research has shown one thing to be very clear: the best negotiators in high-risk discussions begin with the right motives and they stay focused no matter what happens.

    They maintain focus in two ways:

    1. They know what they want.
    2. They don’t make either/or choices.  An either/or choice is a choice between two bad alternatives.


    The mistake most of us make when negotiating is thinking we have to make an either/or choice: we have to choose between stating the truth or risk damaging a relationship. Choosing between candor or kindness. Direct candor with a large heap of kindness is always best.

    When you’re negotiating, and find yourself disagreeing with someone on a hot issue, you’ll begin to feel the adrenaline surging through your body and this will put you at risk for having your adrenaline do the talking as your motives will flow with it. The way to re-focus your brain is to stop and ask yourself these 4 questions:

    1. What do I really want for myself?
    2. What do I really want for others?
    3. What do I really want for the relationship?
    4. How would I behave if I really wanted these results?


    There are two very good reasons for asking these questions:

    1. It helps you find your bearings when you’re being tempted by biology to go down a path of fighting and stops the ingrained habit of trying to win
    2. When we ask ourselves what we really want, we affect our entire physiology. As we introduce complex and abstract questions to our mind, the neocortex, the problem-solving part of our brain, recognizes that we’re now dealing with intricate social issues and not physical threats. Blood flow gets redirected from our limbs from the fight or flight response to our brain where it will help us think and stay focused.


    When you make it a habit to ask yourself these questions, you’ll discover that you initially resist it. Our brains can resist complexity. It’s much easier to choose between attacking or hiding. However, when you require your brain to solve a more complex problem, it usually will. With practice, you’ll find that there is a way to share concerns, listen sincerely to others and build the relationship – all at the same time. And the results can be life-changing.

    The best negotiators refuse the either/or choice by setting up new choices by using the word “and”.

    Here’s how it works:

    1. First, clarify what you really want
    2. Clarify what you really don’t want
    3. Present your brain with a more complex question to search for a more creative way to solve the problem


    Here’s an example:

    1. I want my direct report to be more reliable. I’m tired of being let down by him when he makes commitments I depend on.
    2. I don’t want to have a useless heated conversation that creates bad feelings and doesn’t lead to change.
    3. The question to ask: “How can I have a candid conversation with my direct report about being more dependable and avoid creating bad feelings and wasting our time?”


    When you ask better questions, you get better answers and this is in all areas of your life. We tend to ask ourselves the same questions repeatedly, therefore we don’t get better answers, and stay frustrated.

    In order to achieve successful negotiations, remember the only person you can control is yourself, so if you ask better questions, you’ll get better results.

    As an international payments and foreign currency risk consultant at Western Union Business Solutions in Vancouver, Pascale Hansen helps companies improve cash flow, manage risk, and seize global market opportunities using customized currency risk management solutions.

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