AALL Spectrum

AALL Spectrum | January/February 2016 | Volume 20, Number 3

AALL Spectrum / Published by American Association of Law Libraries

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2016 | AALL SPECTRUM 27 KAREN CATES, PhD EXECUTIVE COACH AND MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT, ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF EXECUTIVE EDUCATION Kellogg School of Management- Northwestern University; Evanston, IL "Fair Is for Girl Scouts" I hear negotiators, both new and experienced, use the word "fair" a lot. "I offered her a fair deal. She can take it or leave it." "Fair" is a good way to stop a negotiation in its tracks. Fairness is a concept that emerges with a vengeance in middle childhood, that age of girls in green uniforms, industriously laboring toward badges to sew on their sashes. Ten-year-olds believe in equity and playing by the rules. "at's not fair!" is a common accusation among children who lament an inequitable distribution of a reward or recognition. While this focus on fairness is under- standable for those developing their moral compasses, the same lament from an adult should net a brusque response. Life is oen not fair. Fairness is a concept that has no place in negotiations. What you think is fair is not likely to look anything like what the other person thinks is fair. It's a matter of position and perspective. Looking for the fair outcome has the potential for leaving a lot of value on the table for both parties—it is as if you are both agreeing to be lazy and use some outside measure of what a good deal looks like instead of working out the details of the best outcome for you both. If you don't like the direction a negotiation is taking, change the momentum, take a break—DO some- thing. Avoid the focus on fair. Be Aware of Unequal Power at the Table When negotiating for that sugar bowl, chances are good that you and the flea market vendor are standing on even ground. When negotiating for a raise © 2016 BY KAREN CATES, PhD Karen Cates, PhD is an executive coach and Adjunct Professor of Executive Education at the Kellogg School of Management. Her seminars and coaching work focus on developing leaders by building on their strengths to improve their effectiveness. Dr. Cates became a mediator in 1993 through the Center for Conflict Resolution, a not-for-profit founded by the Chicago Bar Association. As a consultant, she provides conflict management services to all levels of the organization, including facilitation of management team disputes, workplace investigations, and assistance with executive-level strategic planning and decision-making. Dr. Cates spoke on negotiations at the inaugural AALL Business Skills Clinic on October 17, 2015, in Chicago, Illinois. or a promotion, however, by defini- tion one person has more power than the other. Here are some things to keep in mind: When You Have Low Power Low power people tend to be highly observant. Like a rabbit, they are vigilant about detecting what might or might not hurt them in the environ- ment. Low power people are better at reading other people's emotions and adjusting more quickly to meet the demands of the other party. ey tend to be more considerate in conversation. Low power people also have a tendency to underestimate their power at the table. If you are at the table, you have some degree of power. e other person is investing time in you because you have something they want (e.g., money for the sugar bowl, skills to get the work done). Low power people sometimes need to give themselves a little power boost before negotiations. Preparation and planning increases power. If the thing is worth asking for, striking a power pose for a couple of minutes before the meeting will also help to release the hormones that help you to be confident at the table. (See Amy Cuddy's TED Talk on body language and power at bit.ly/ JF16PowerPose.) When You Have High Power High power people tend to be less observant. ey are oen less consid- erate and more likely to fail to notice details in discussion. is is partly because they have a lot of things going on and don't necessarily turn off their brain to focus entirely on the negotia- tion. But high power at the negotiation table can be a liability if the other party isn't buying it. It can work against someone who fails to read the room, forgets the details, or comes off arro- gant when a win-win approach is advisable. Preparation and planning can increase awareness. Before the meet- ing, making a concerted effort to see the table from the viewpoint of the other party will prime the high-power brain to shi perspective. My advice: Consider your power position for your next negotiation, and add one of the exercises above to your planning and preparation activities. You will find books and courses ad infinitum teaching people how to unsettle their opponents and grab all the value possible. Some people swag- ger their way to a good deal. Others use tricks and lies to get what they want. ese strategies are short-lived and oen backfire, especially if there is a relationship on the table. Your best bet at any table is to approach the negotiation as a problem to be solved. Add emotion when it is strategic, when you can control it. Know what you want, and don't be afraid to ask for it. But also have the patience to collect information, give a little, take a little, and wait for the right moment to make the big ask. Trust the process, and never be afraid to take a break. Step away from the table. Regroup, reorganize, revise your plan when new information presents itself. And then go back in for the next round. And remember, sometimes "No!" is the just the beginning of the dance. ¢

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