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3 Steps for Developing a Collaborative Mindset

By |October 16, 2023

In far too many negotiations, both sides consider each other adversaries: I want to get what I want to get, and they want to get what they want to get. 

But there’s a difference between your wants and needs. You might want ten items in a deal. But if you get everything you want, how might that impact your counterpart and their future with the organization? 

If you’re not thinking about how a deal might affect your counterpart, you’re being selfish and not using Tactical Empathy®.  

Achieving the best outcomes possible starts with bringing a collaborative mindset to the table. It’s not about being curious about how to get what you want—it’s about being curious about the other side and knowing how to make them feel good about giving you what they have.

To do that, you need to put aside your own goals and remember it isn’t about you. Be focused on what’s important to your counterpart and pinpoint what drives their behaviors.

Mindset and CAVIAAR™ 

When we are talking about mindset, we’re talking about C.A.V.I.AA.R™ (Curiosity, Acceptance, Venting, Identifying, Accusation Audit®, Remembering). By staying curious, you can identify whether your counterpart is under pressure or if they believe you are not just not listening. For example, the other side might be concerned about their livelihood: If they give up a deal that’s bad for the company, they may be reprimanded to the point of losing their job.

In any negotiation, your counterpart wants to succeed, grow, and improve. By being curious and being a better listener—letting your counterpart speak 75-80 percent of the time—you can determine what’s important to them. Potentially, what’s important to them will be the same as you.

I once coached a client who worked for the same company for 12 years when another organization tried to poach him. That company was only willing to pay him $140,000. My client went back and told them that number wouldn’t work, and the company asked him what number might. He gave them a number that he felt was what he needed to make, and they told him they hadn’t gone that high before.

He came back with a Proof of Life™ question: Out of all the people you could hire, why me? The company pitched his value proposition for him: This is a lot of work, and you’re going to have to reinvent the wheel and make it better, but you’re super talented and have a great work ethic, so that’s what we’re counting on you to do. He returned with a Label™: It sounds like you see the value in raising how much you’re willing to pay me. 

Eventually, the company presented an offer that fit his range, plus a 10 percent bonus. Once they agreed to his request, he felt he underbid and asked me whether he could ask for more. I told him the company did everything you asked for; reneging on the deal would demonstrate that you’re not willing to collaborate, making the prospect of a long-term relationship less likely. 

Instead of appearing wishy-washy and negotiating the deal further, he chose to collaborate. He took the job and felt determined to prove to his new bosses that they made the right choice—hoping his contributions would be rewarded.

Does your negotiation strategy fit their personality? Use this guide to  negotiate successfully with anyone »

3 Steps for Developing a Collaborative Mindset

Want to ensure you bring a collaborative mindset to the table next time you’re in a negotiation? Use these three tips to make it rain:

1. Clear your mind.

Before heading into a negotiation, write down your goals and agenda on paper and bring it with you to the table. Sit in the chair and clear your mind of all emotions and distractions to bring the right mindset to the discussion. Remember: Don’t take anything out on the person across from you. Empty your mind of everything happening in your world so you can be present in the moment. 

2. Stay curious.

In every negotiation, you need to stay curious. Why is the other side saying what they’re saying? What are they looking for? What pressures are they facing on their side? Are they trying to manipulate you? By staying curious and looking for the underlying drivers of certain behaviors, you can begin to see the lay of the land the same way your counterpart does, making it that much easier to make a deal.

3. Know who you’re negotiating with.

The Black Swan Group teaches clients about three distinct negotiator types: Analysts, Assertives, and Accommodators. 

As soon as you sit down at the table, it’s critical to identify your counterpart’s negotiator type so you can begin treating them how they want to be treated, setting the stage for a more collaborative negotiation.

To learn how to determine what negotiator type you’re up against, what makes them tick, and how to deal with each effectively, check out our free guide: Three Negotiator Types

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