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How to Debrief Post-Negotiation (Hot Wash)

By |July 10, 2023

Even the best negotiators in the world can improve. 

If you’re a cutthroat negotiator who wins deal after deal, you might think you don’t need to further hone your skills. But you would be wrong. 

In their primes, guys like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods had coaches. They practiced intensely and focused on what they could do to become better athletes and get better results.

As a negotiator, you need to take the same approach. Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before someone comes along who is hungrier than you and will embarrass you at the table.

The Black Swan Group teaches clients to debrief after each negotiation through a process we refer to as a hot wash. Keep reading to learn more about debriefing after a negotiation.

Why You Need to Debrief Post-Negotiation

No negotiator can listen to 100 percent of what the other side is saying. It’s just not possible.

This is why we encourage folks to bring a second person to the table whenever possible. When you have at least two sets of ears listening to the other side, you can pick up different pieces of the conversation. When the conversation is complete, the negotiating team can debrief each other: What did I say right? What did I say wrong? What did I miss?

If your goal is to continuously improve as a negotiator, you need to be thick-skinned and honest with yourself. That starts with admitting that you’re not perfect and that there are things that you can improve on.

At the end of a negotiation, get out a notebook to document your experience. Maybe you only used Labels™ and Mirrors™ but didn’t use any Summaries™. Maybe you spoke too soon or too often when you should have listened at least 80 percent of the time. Maybe you didn’t use enough Accusation Audits®, or they didn’t land because you used the wrong tone. 

Whatever the case may be, write it down and identify your shortcomings.

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A Commitment to Continuous Improvement

The hot wash is when you work on the things you need to improve. By incorporating hot washes into your post-negotiation routine, you can make sure you’re not moping around at the end of the day, and instead are improving upon your shortcomings. 

The Black Swan Group has a saying: The last impression is the lasting impression. Usually, we teach clients to ensure they leave a good last impression on their counterparts. But the concept holds true during the debriefing process as well. 

Make sure you end your debrief by focusing on something you did well during the negotiation. Otherwise, you may begin to dwell on the negatives, shattering your confidence and making it harder to do well the next time you sit down at the table.

Debrief After Every Negotiation

If you want to become an effective negotiator, you need to incorporate hot washes into your post-negotiation routine. After each negotiation, figure out what went right and what went wrong, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and determine what you need to work on.

For example, maybe you didn’t give your counterpart 100 percent of your attention. In that instance, there’s no chance you absorbed everything the other side said, meaning you potentially missed out on Black Swans. However, this is something you can improve on for the next time you sit down at the table. 

Just like the best athletes in the world continue to practice, you need to do the same as a negotiator. Otherwise, someone will come along who is more eager and will overtake you.

Want to continue learning? Download our eBook, Negotiation Training: How to Build Self-Confidence and Close the Deal to learn what to do after a negotiation to improve your confidence.

eBook Cover for Negotiation Training: How to Build Self-Confidence