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Welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast! Aram and Nolan are joined by Mala Subramaniam, a corporate speaker, executive coach, and cross-cultural trainer who offers a blend of Eastern and Western philosophies for negotiations. She has authored a book called Beyond Wins | Eastern Mindset For Success In Daily Business Negotiations. On today’s agenda is Mala’s professional journey from a corporate leader to becoming a negotiations expert and coach; as well as an introduction to the key concepts explored in her book.
Mala had a cushy job at IBM for 20 years where she climbed the corporate ladder. However, a sudden lay off made her reconsider her approach in her professional life. She had focused on immediate wins and getting ahead in the corporate rat race but neglected what she believes now to be more important: cultivating relationships and long term results. Her next role would be as a presentation and communications skills lecturer at Cognizant. While lecturing there, she was asked to teach negotiations and she jumped at the opportunity to explore how one can build themselves up mentally to become better negotiators instead of getting mired in tools and techniques.
For Mala, having the right mindset is key to one accomplishing their goals. She uses the example of a person trying to lose weight. While it is certainly possible for a person to lose weight through special diets and milkshakes if that’s their only goal, it is advisable to preserve their health and sanity and choose a more rewarding goal such as getting fit enough to be able to climb the Himalayas. Similarly in the professional world, Maya advises her students to never have the mindset to settle for any role, but pick the position that they would be able to bring the most value to. The aim should be to succeed, not to get a quick win. A quick win often comes at the cost of another individual losing, which is antithetical to making long term relationships.
This approach is what she describes in the book as the “Eastern Mindset”. Experience taught Mala that one philosophical component missing in corporate America is the internal focus and the ability to self-reflect and take responsibility. People tend to look at external variables for their successes and failures, thereby robbing themselves of their agency. Instead by taking ownership, they will be able to hold themselves accountable and become stronger leaders.
1.The Communications Signal
It is common for two opposing parties in a negotiation to not listen to their counterpart across the table. Instead of getting positional, the Eastern Method would allow them to be contemplative about finding the right way to communicate their needs and understanding the counterpart’s grievances.
2. Goals Dictate Success
Once a common understanding has been established through communication, it is much easier to set a goal that can be mutually beneficial. Being focused on the goal helps one to be balanced and not be perturbed by the difficulties that may arise over the duration of the negotiation.
3. Asking What, Not Who
It is a natural human instinct to look for scapegoats when a problem arises. This may result in one losing focus on the goal and becoming preoccupied with getting out of the problem instead of figuring out how to solve it. Do not blame yourself or someone else, take responsibility.
4. Dare To Dream
Dream big. Think of the relief that you’ll feel when you shake hands with your counterpart after the deal is done. Having an optimistic outlook from the get go sets one up to manifest success.
5. Say It Only If You Believe It
Credibility is key. It is integral to one’s ability to negotiate a mutually favorable outcome. If an option is not acceptable to you, it should not be presented at the table. Speaking with conviction will make your counterpart respond in a positive way rather than reacting negatively
6. Respond, Not React
A reaction is emotional, and it has no place at the table. A response on the other hand, is a responsible way of addressing the issue at hand. By keeping emotions aside and responding with facts and logic, one can minimize conflict.
7. Be Open Minded
Tailor your communication to the personality of your counterpart. Understand if they are the planner, the talker, the mover or the shaker. This involves minimizing assumptions and suspicions and getting on the wavelength of the individual across the table.
8. Don’t Mess With Silence
Silence can be a double-edged sword. It may give your counterpart the chance to think, but can also be intimidating to them. Either way, silence can be powerful but its best use is to take the quiet time to resolve the conflict within oneself.
Your hosts and Mala go into a lot more detail covering these eight rules on the podcast. Write to us at email@example.com if you’d like to share your own creative negotiation strategies or if you have a specific question that we can answer!
Thank you for listening.
Nolan Martin : Hey everyone. My name's Nolan Martin. I'm the co-founder and co-host for NEGOTIATEx. And with me today is my good friend Aram who is also the co-founder of NEGOTIATEx, but more importantly Aram, you wanna introduce our guest?
Aram Donigian : I will, thanks Nolan. Folks today we have the pleasure of being joined by Mala Subramaniam and Mala spoke to one of my classes- we were just talking about this- about a year and a half ago, was a very dynamic and engaged speaker. My students really enjoyed speaking with Mala so I thought, Hey, maybe if she's available, we'll bring her onto the show. She's written a great book called Beyond Wins | Eastern Mindset for Success and Daily Business Negotiations and I'm excited to talk more about that book. Mala, let me just say a few words about you. Mala is a corporate speaker, executive coach and cross-cultural trainer. She brings a combination of Eastern and Western philosophies to the topic of negotiations. She has her MBA from Rutgers and a master's degree in sociology. She's also a certified, Achieve Global Leadership trainer. Mala spent over 20 years in influential marketing and strategy roles at global companies, such as IBM GE healthcare and done in broad street since 2006, MAA has given talks and led webinars onsite courses and provide leadership coaching to a number of clients. Cognizant Technology Solutions and Meltwater are among her major clients. Her cross-cultural talks have also reached Lincoln financial, Harvard, Express Scripts, Comcast Putnam, financial NASDAQ, William Sonoma, U S S D and others many more across both the United States and India. So Mala with that, welcome to our podcast.
Mala Subramaniam : Thank you so much, Aram. I need to get that description that you just gave. I can create a bio with that. You did a great job.
AD : [Laughs] Thanks, Mala. All right, well Mala let's, let's start off. I'd love to hear about your journey. How did you become a, an expert in negotiation? How did you get started in this field?
MS : Aram I had been doing negotiation without even realizing it for 20 years in my corporate job to get things done. And the realization came when I was laid off by IBM. I was sitting in the Westchester parking lot and I said, what just happened to me? You know, this is the biggest company. And I thought I would retire here, gloriously. And I was laid off and I looked back at my career and it was a series of projects that I had done and projects that were accomplished well, but in trying to accomplish, finishing it on time and, you know, doing things, I forgot what was important: the relationships and the long term results. So I was looking for immediate wins and that's what made me realize that I need to teach other people what to focus on and what to do. And I saw people walking out of the IBM parking lot.
I was there for about three or four hours. I saw people walking out of there, you know, evening, around 5:30 PM. And I was thinking, “Oh my God, I wish I could tell all of them, think of what is important.” I left my Eastern roots in trying to win the rat race. So that was the beginning of the journey and fortunately cognizant had asked me to come in and teach presentation skills and cross communications- giving lectures on that- and while doing that, they said, “can you teach negotiation?” And I said, “can I teach negotiation? I can.” But the slack that I am in negotiation was not tools and techniques. It was more of build yourself. So that's when one of the students asked me “Mala why don't you teach this or write a book about it, because that will be interesting.” So there it goes, Aram, that's my journey.
AD : Oh, it's fantastic. And I would say that, it sounds like it kind of starts from a place of personal need, which I can relate to. And I know Nolan can too, and then saying, I need to share some of this with other people.
MS : Exactly.
NM : So I just wanna jump in, in the book, you talk about mindset, how do we first get our head around mind? Why is it important in negotiations and then kind of kick this conversation off?
MS : Sure. You see, it's not about the tools and techniques that you have and all the, you know, the computer, the technology, everything; it is the person in you that is going to be sitting at the negotiation table. And the person in you is the mindset that you have. You know, I'll give you a very basic example. A lot of times people go there and when they feel like they've gained a lot of weight, they say, okay, I wanna lose weight. I wanna lose weight at whatever cost, then they start on these milkshakes, diets, weight Watchers, and all that. And yeah, it might last, you might lose weight, but you're going to lose a lot more than the weight. Your health, your sanity, because you keep going yoyo up and down. So instead of thinking, I wanna lose weight if your mindset is health, or I wanna climb the Himalayas, or I wanna do this… I know this person who actually was overweight, could hardly walk. And then this trip of the Himalaya came in and she really focused on her health and did hikes every day, every week. And she was able to climb the Himalayas. Not only did she lose weight, she was extremely healthy that she was able to go up the elevation. So to me, the mindset is important. If you are internally strong, and if you are goal driven, and if you have the right attitude, then definitely it is long term success. It's not about an immediate win. And the same thing, you know, I always tell people, I do a lot of career coaching and mentoring, and I tell people, don't say I want a job because then you'll get any job.
Think about, “I wanna be in a situation where I'm adding value.” Then when you go in, you're going to present yourself as somebody who is accomplished and know how to match the requirements of the position and whether it is the right position. I remember, you know, I was in that desperate situation. I had been laid off by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. And I said, “Oh God, I need to get a job.” So that was the mindset with which I was approaching everybody. And I got a job that was miserable. They hired me as a credit analyst when I had very little background in it. It's just the way I was speaking that they were impressed and they hired me and I quit the job within a month. So to me, mindset is very important, particularly when you go into negotiation
AD : And I remember Mala you kind of built on this. We started when you visited my class, we did a little poll. We asked students about some mindset pieces. Do you wanna win or succeed? Are you gonna bargain or are you gonna negotiate? Are you gonna react or are you gonna respond? How do those concepts, those kind of those different, how do those play into this mindset that you're talking about?
MS : Sure. If you wanna win, then basically it's a short term. You are thinking of a beginning and an end and winning is like you go to a car dealer and you wanna get the best price. And the car dealer wants to get the best deal out of you. So that's winning. It's a short term, there's no relationship, there's no long-term thinking. Whereas success is a journey. And when you are in a company and you're working with people, it's not about winning because you win, you are going to make the other person lose. And the more and more you are going to have people lose the greater the possibility that you're going to lose a lot more than the project. So I think that is the winning- success is long term. It's like, there is a bigger, but there's no end.
You go into a job. You finish project after project, after project, but success is built when you make sure that you have everybody involved in the project and everybody feels like they are part of the solution, and it's not like “I'm doing it so follow me.” And here's an example of this person who was just constantly getting projects done, gaining all the visibility. And then at one point the vendors, the colleagues refused to even attend her meetings because they were afraid that she's going to rope them into something and they will not be able to either deliver or feel good about it. So her boss was very encouraging because he said, “Oh, I'm getting all these projects. And we're both gaining visibility. The division is gaining visibility.” Then what happened was she got a new boss and when people refused to attend her meetings or the vendors refused to bid on the projects, then she actually went to the boss and she said, “Can you…,” you know, she escalated.
She said “Can you help me get people to attend the meetings” and things like that. And he said, “Let's pause. You've lost a lot. The vendor relationship, you have lost people in your team. And you got people who are not collaborating with you. So do you wanna win? Or do you wanna succeed?” So winning is about you. Success is about everybody. So that to me is the biggest, difference. And, and the same difference is between bargaining and negotiation. 90% of what happened in corporate America still happens is bargaining. There's no negotiation. Thiss bargaining is like “I versus you.” Each person has wants and desires and after that it's not solution driven. And it's not about long term getting everybody involved. And there's no leadership in that. Whereas success is, you know, negotiation is about bringing everybody to the table and gaining consensus and trying to solve a problem.
And most of the times people sit at the negotiation or so-called negotiation table, they don't even know what the problem is and what the solution is. They don't even sit down to come to a consensus on what is the problem. It's like, for instance, I was doing a lot of workshops with Cognizant and they would always tell me- I was teaching negotiation- they would always tell me, “oh, the clients are so demanding. So many priorities” and our option is to say, no, we can't do it. Or, we'll take a stand. And that's when everybody's taking a stand. And then I said, “Did you ever think, why is the client asking for more projects and why is it that they're demanding? Why are they changing priorities? Have you ever looked at what is the cause?” And that's when they paused.
And I said, “If you sit down and figure out what is called, maybe, maybe it's because there's a change in management. And that change in management is causing people to react a little differently. So why not think, how can I help the client?” Because the definition of client is one who is dependent on the other. So client means the client is dependent on the vendor or on the consultant. So they're dependent on you and when they're dependent on you, instead of taking a stand and saying, I'm not gonna do it, think about what is it that is causing them to make these unreasonable demands.
AD : Yeah. That's such a great framing. It's gotta be difficult too. and it's something I think Nolan and I can say, we've heard working with our different clients who will say, “Ah, the supplier's the problem,” right? The supplier will never do this. And it's never, never really focused on ourselves and never, and never does that question that causes that pause, which is why might this be occurring for them?
MS : Exactly. And I think that's what, if you, if you don't mind my going into the Eastern mindset…
AD : Yeah. Well, that's what I was gonna ask you. I was gonna ask you that. So tell us, what is this Eastern mindset and the question is, does it have a place in Western business?
MS : Yes, it does. In fact, the Western with its independent thinking and its series of wind and, doing so well. I mean, it's the most advanced nation on this, earth. So you've got really advanced thinkers and everything. What is missing I feel and what was missing in my approach also in 20 years in corporate America was an internal focus. What is internal focus? Going inward and taking responsibility. See, when you are externally focused, you are always looking for reasons for your success or failure or your wins or your losses. Internal focus means I take full responsibility for everything that happens. I create my life. I create the situations, I create the success and the failure. So when you take full responsibility, that's what internal focus means. And I think if the Western approach can take that internal focus and gain that balance, it would be a lot better.
I mean, I'm gonna give you a basic example. If you go into yoga, they always tell you to close your eyes and, and not to open your eyes and to look at the other person to see, oh my God, that person is able to twist herself into whatever, you know, and I can't even fall my, legs. Then you have an external focus and not internally, internally the breath has to guide you into the movement, into the position. And if you are going to focus on the other person, and that's what internal focus means, finding, taking responsibility for yourself and being guided by yourself. I love the fact that we have all these tools and techniques and everything. And you know, I end the course and I've read all the books, Getting To Yes, Never Split The Difference, everything I have read. And I think that's great. I had one student who came to my class and basically said, “I attended the Harvard program. I attended this program, that program, but still, I feel like I'm not doing well when I go to make a deal or kind of deal or negotiate.” And I said thats because you are letting the tools guide you and for you to be in charge, you have to have the right mindset.
AD : I was gonna say, I appreciate the yoga example because if Nolan and I, and you're only seeing us kind of from the chest up, but if we were trying to do some twists and turns without keeping our eyes closed, it would be disastrous. And I was also gonna say, I just, and I'll, I'll sure I'll come back this at the end. I love the leadership focus Mala of what you're sharing. That is success, right. There's a leadership component to this that I create. And there's the ownership and accountability piece. And I do think that that ends up missing so often from the work we see.
MS : Thank you. Yes. I, I think that is the most important, the ownership; I am responsible. So when I go into any negotiation, I listen to soft music. I listen to some inspirational talks and everything, and I calm myself down and I realize I'm responsible for whatever happens at the table. You know, once the people take ownership, then it's a totally different thing. And I feel that's what the Western world needs because Western world is very transaction driven and there is nothing to build relationships. And there is no taking ownership, like I never took ownership of all the problems that happened. I kind of left a trail of problems in my corporate career. I didn't take any ownership. And that's where I felt that I had failed, but I don't blame myself. I take responsibility.
NM : I think that's, a good distinction that you don't blame yourself, that you take responsibility. Mal I wanna follow up with you. So what are the Seven Rules to an effective negotiation that you talk about?
MS : My favorite [Laughs] The first one is the- actually I'm going to do one more- The eight and the first one is the communication signal. And this is very critical because if you look at it, most negotiations or so-called negotiations is about you. It's people sitting at opposite end of the table. One person has one understanding of the problem and the other person has a totally different understanding of the problem. For instance, the client will say, “all the data that you gave was incorrect, the reports are all incorrect.” And then the vendor is saying “that's because people in your department gave incorrect data.” So it's like, oh, okay then what is it that caused them to give the incorrect data and these people to take the incorrect data and produce the reports? That means nobody's sat down to see the corrections that were needed to fix the data before you created the report.
So there's no common understanding. So with that, they come to the table and this person is saying, “oh, we want the reports on that time. We want you to redo the reports.” And these people are saying, “no, we can't afford to redo the reports, that means you have to pay for those resources.” So there is then a tug of war and then one walks away the winner, usually it's the client. They feel good about it. And this consistently happens to the point where then the vendor feels like I've exhausted all resources. I cannot comply with the client. Now I have to fight, or I have to drop this client. So that is the main thing, getting to a common understanding of the problem. I think in the book, I'd given the suggestion of a conversation between a parent and a teenager.
The parent, if you don't mind my giving that the parent says, “you have to come by 9:00 PM.” And the kid says, “are you kidding me? Everybody will laugh at me.” So they're both taking a stand. But then when the parent said, “I'm concerned about your security, your safety, because there's a lot of accidents and a lot of, you know, shootings and things like that, I'm afraid.” And then the kid says, “people will laugh at me. If I come in at 9:00 PM, I might as well not go to the party.” Or he might say, “okay, let me just skip out when dad is sleeping.” So instead of that, they come to an understanding. Once they come to an understanding, then they can, you know, then the negotiation starts. So that's the most important, the communication signal where…
AD : And I appreciate your example. Sorry. I appreciate your example because I have a 14 year old in the house. Okay. So this is, you're setting me up for success.
MS : Ask your 14 year old to read the book and you read the book and then you can come.
AD : [Laughs] Sounds good. Then we'll give you a call.
MS : Yeah I can mediate. But so that, you know, that is the most, you know, a lot of times I hear people say I communicated too. And I always say, there is no “to” with a communicate. It has to be “with”, so it's a two way street. So that's the main, that's one of the first things that I say: once you've got a common understanding the problem, then the goal is easier to set. Instead of the vendor client saying my goal is to make these people do the reports and the other person saying, no, I have to see how I can decline doing that. Instead then they come to a common understanding and see a goal that is mutually beneficial to both. For instance, like I said, the goal is not losing weight. The goal is being able to travel, being healthy. So when the goal is broader and more strategic in thinking, then the solution is new. Not too far off, you see, I went through a class where they were talking about how to come up with options and things like that. And I was thinking, you've not even zeroed in on the problem, where can you come up with the options?
AD : Yeah. So I was just gonna say, I think that's really insightful because we talk so much in our line of work, right. About getting creative. If we want people to get creative, we want 'em to come with options. But if they haven't gotten to the root of the problem, you're just kind of making stuff up right?
MS : Yeah, exactly. Because that's when you are thinking about what is that person's interest and what's my interest and how can we come to a common understanding? No, it's like first figure out what the problem is. See the interest is all about “who”, the problem is all about “what”? So figure out what is the problem. And also what is the need. Instead of thinking, what does Aram want and what does Mala want, it's like what is the need that will satisfy both ends? What is the need and what is the solution? It's about not you and I it's about we. So it has to be very solution driven. So that's the most important, the goal. And then the, the next one, once you have the goal that kind of gives you the balance because you know, it's so funny I'm going back to yoga. When in yoga, they'll ask you to stand on one foot. So if I ask you to stand up and stand on one foot, you're not gonna be able to do it. Instead. If I say, “look at a picture or look at something on the wall and focus on the wall”, and then when you are focusing on the wall, then I say, “okay, now raise one foot”, it's gonna be totally different. You're gonna be able to do it. It's amazing, try it, not today, but [laughs] try it. because if I, you know, I've done that. Like I can stand on my feet as long as I'm focusing on that object, the moment I take my eye off the object I fall. So that's what goal is throughout the negotiation. You have to focus on the goal, then the you'll be balanced, then it's an internally focused, thing.
And then the next one is “Ask what not who”. Basically, when the problem happens, our natural tendencies to say, “Hey, who's at fault?”. And once you start blaming either yourself or somebody else, then you cannot solve the problem because the focus is on, “how do I get out of this situation” rather than “what needs to be done to get out of the situation.” And the next one is dare to dream. Most of the times, when I've mentored people, or I'm going to ask for promotion, or I'm gonna ask for a salary increase and I know my boss is going to say no. And I'm not gonna get it, or I'm not gonna get this job, or I'm not gonna get this project done. So when you go with that, how are you going to get it done then?
How were you going to get the job? To me, it is better to dream big and have that strong intention that, you know, have a visualization of you and the other person shaking hands and being happy about the whole thing, or you buying something with the new salary increase that you got. So when you start dreaming, like for instance, I'm afraid of sitting in the middle in flights and
AD : Me too.
MS : Yeah, really? [Laughs] I guess a lot of people. When I called, you know, I had booked the flight on British Airways and I called them and I was like mad. I said, “I paid for a business class. You're not giving me a seat.” And, and they said, :ma'am, it doesn't matter who you are. We don't assign seats till 24 hours before.” And I said, “then I have to cancel the flight because I can't even imagine sitting from here to India, sitting in the middle row”, leave alone going to Houston or something.
So, and so I fought and the person said, heck with it, you, you know, and, and didn't do anything. But then, and I thought about it. And I called again with a totally different approach, I saw myself sitting in the end seat and having a drink in my hand and enjoying, like a dream and intention. So my whole approach was different. I was more friendly. And I said, “oh, I know you can do it.” And they said, “oh, don't worry about it. We've had a thing and we can do it”. And, and they were able to do it for me. They were able to give me a better seat in the business class. And I was assigned all the way. So I think that's what is the dare to dream the intention, the hopes all have to be there.
You cannot go with any doom, you know, this person is nasty, and then say it only when you believe it, that is the other, the third rule that I have to fort through that you have to, you know, don't go there and give options if you are not going to accept it for yourself. Like the first rule is, “is this option something I would accept?” And if I'm not going to accept it, I'm not gonna present it to somebody else. You know, I've had people come coming to this so-called negotiation and give options. And when I ask questions, my background is in market research. So I know how to ask questions so that the other person will spill their guts, but I'm just kidding. But anyway, I asked, they would tell me, so if they're not gonna accept it, then how would they expect?
So the credibility is very important. And also people get very, I used to give market research presentations and the curve really was very important, because my background is statistics, all that is important. So when I go in there and present, I'm not gonna present data, but I'm going to present insights, but I would have the backup. So if somebody asked me, I would be able to tell them why I'm saying that they need to do this, why I think that this market is not a good market, not to go into it. So the credibility is very important. And I think one of the things you were saying respond versus react, that is very, very, very Eastern thought process. See reaction is very emotion. It's on the surface and reaction happens when you are angry, when you are not thinking clearly and respond means addressing the question or the problem in an extremely responsible way.
That's why it's called respond. You know, it's a responsible way of addressing. So for instance, I was doing a role play in a class, and one person said the client was role playing said, “well, your competition is offering us a better to deal. You know, it's, competition, a, B and C is offering, this deal. And they can do the reports on time. And they're not even costing that much.” Immediately the reaction from the vendor group was, “oh, we know that competition. Did you see the newspaper? They're gonna be out of existence? What are you going to do then?” And I said, no, that is a reaction. And I said, what is the goal there? The goal is not to prove that the other person is wrong or that the competition is wrong- the goal is to have the other person rely on your credibility and accept you.
So there is a better way of addressing it. I'm saying, “okay, I understand that you have a contact of the competition and we're, you know, we are fine if you wanna go with it, we have been with you for 10 years, and we're very appreciative. And once you sign on with the client, and if you need help, don't hesitate to call we'll come and, and help you.” So, you know, something like that is more responsible that you care about the client. You don't want the client to go with a competitor, instead of saying it, you know, say it indirectly, but be responsible in your answers. So that is the response.
AD : Let me jump in, sorry, hold your train of thought. I don't wanna interrupt. I hate to interrupt your train of thought cause it's great. I have not heard “respond” framed in the way that you just did to address in a responsible way. I really think that's a beautiful nugget. So I just wanted to kind of emphasize that in the description you're giving to it. I've just not heard that before Mala, so sorry for an interrupting, but I just wanted, oh,
MS : No, that's great. Thank you. Thank you. And I learned that when I used to make presentations on market research, I remember one presentation on customer service and the whole operations area was up in arms. When I walked in, the analyst was the one who was going to present. And he presented and everybody was like, you know, you took the wrong sample, you didn't call the right people and things like that. And the analyst said, well, you gave the data. And you know, it was like, he was reacting. And he said, I have a PhD and I've been doing this for 15 years. What do you mean that we were wrong in sampling? And then I said, no time out. I said, you have to address the persons. They're all angry because it's going to affect their bonus. You know, that's what I was thinking.
I didn't say that. They're afraid of the bonus and the thing instead of reacting to them, to their anger. Because when you're reacting, you are reacting to the anger. You're not reacting to the questions that they're asking. You're not responding to them. So then I said, okay, let's make a sample call. You're saying your calls, you have reports that show that your calls, people, customers only hold for 30 seconds. So let's do a sample call when we did the sample call. And I asked, what is the telephone they gave about 10 telephone numbers? I said, well, there is the problem. So I had to prove to them that what we were saying was, correct, but without making the other person feel like a fool. So if I say, “Hey, I have an MBA, I have a master's, how dare you ask me these questions” then immediately it's a we-they situation.
The rule is being open minded, because of my background in market research, I have to say that I'm fairly neutral and open-minded when I discuss with, people when I have a conversation, and that goes with not reacting and things like that. So open-minded is, one of the important elements of this open-mindedness is to be cognizant of who you're talking to. You have to be openminded enough to talk to them in their language. For instance, I had to give presentations to IT people, Operations people, more sales and marketing and senior level people. So when I go to senior level people, I go right to the what's in it for you. You know, I don't go there, give them a whole bunch of data and everything go right in. So when I talk to sales and marketing, I'm not going to give them a bunch of data, cause they're going to all of them fall asleep.
So there, I give them ideas. And when I present to IT people, it's all about process and the operations people on logistics. I remember this director of communications who came in and did a fantastic presentation and the operations people who had a stony silence throughout, but in the end, when she came to the logistic, they all woke up and they were all interacting with her. And then she was saying, you know, Mala, I think I should have first started with the logistics. Maybe they would've been awake for the rest of the… [laughs]
When you present options in a negotiation, I always tell people, look at who you are presenting to. Don't just go in and give some,
AD : Yeah, that's hard to do, right? Because a lot of times when I'm presenting, I am presenting the, what I would want to hear versus thinking what, where, where is their
MS : Exactly, exactly. And that I think is the critical, like when I did market research, I would change gears based on who's in my audience with operations people, I would not give a sales pitch because they would all say, “oh, you're cutting into my bonus you're creating all these things that's going to cost and management is going to cut my bonus.” So I think it's very important to be very audience driven when you're presenting. And the best way to start is by asking a question. When you ask a few questions, then you'll know what type of audience you have. So then you present. So when I go into any kind of lecture or anything like that, I start with a question. Then I know who I'm talking to, what, what is their mindset? See, it's the mindset here that is very critical.
And the same thing with, you know, there's another category and it's in the book, it's about, the talkers, the planners, the movers and the shakers. These are different people and the doers. So these are four types of people in companies that I've seen. I remember one of the negotiation classes said, you have to talk to a decision maker. So how do you know they're a decision maker? Sometimes doers come in and say, “okay, we'll go back and we'll get back to you.” Then that's the worst. That's a not negotiation. Then you're just basically, you know, laid out all your cards on the table and then you're going to have a decision maker come in. So it's very important to know who you are dealing with. Is it the doer or the planner, the talker, or the, or the one, the mover or shaker.
So you need the mover shaker, you need the talker, so that they'll bring the balance in the negotiation table. And then my final thing is don't mess with silence. I remember, I remember going to classes where they said, well, when the other person has presented something and they are stubborn and they're taking a stand, then be silent. And when you're silent, the other person is going to get nervous. And silence is very powerful. So you don't want to use it that way. If you want to maintain a long-term relationship, if you wanna win, go to buy a car, and the guy is talking left to right, if you are just silent the whole time I tried this recently, when I bought my Toyota, I was so silent and that person just gave in.
And I said, okay, it's okay for a car, it doesn't matter. I walk out now, it's not like I need to have a continued long-term friendship or anything. But you don't do that with your, in a, a client then the relationship or within the company, when you're trying to every day, your daily in, in corporate America, you're negotiating. So you don't wanna do that to your, to your colleagues, your teammates, your people who are reporting to you. Then, you know, if a person comes in and says, Mala I want a salary increase and you’re just quiet and looking at them, that's gonna make them nervous and they'll walk out. [Laughs] So I think silence is very powerful. Silence is to give the other person a chance to think, because most of the time the conflict is within yourself.
The conflict is within yourself. And that gets expressed when you go to negotiation. And this is what I coach when I talk to people. So that person is this way. And this, you know, we're always fighting with each other he's mean, and he doesn't respect women. This happened, you know, one woman was telling, I said, the conflict is in your mind, you've got this big imagination that is built. You've built a really a nightmare in your mind that is constantly chattering. So when you face the other person, the first thing that comes out is something unpleasant. So it is very important to silence your mind. The best way to silence of course, is meditation. A lot of people cannot. Other ways is to listen to soft music, listen to inspirational talks and everything so that you are kinda silencing your mind so that you quiet the chat in your mind.
You know, I did a major presentation and it was a very, very, very contentious, presentation. Everybody was. So, and then my client called and she said, Mala, we are going to introduce another executive coach into the group. And I was like really mad, you know, because I had just come out of a contentious presentation where everybody was challenging me and I'm thinking, “oh, there's another challenge.” You know, set up this executive coaching program and I'm like the lead person and they're hiring somebody without talking to me. So my mind was chattering. And that's what I blurted out. I said, “nobody told me, you know, how could you do this to me?” Right. That was it. And then, you know, I realized, and she said, “Mala, I'm surprised that you're talking that way. You never talk that way.” And then I said, “okay, I'm sorry. I was in a bad presentation. Can you give me some time?” So I hung up, had the time when I came back, it was a totally different approach. And they had that culture to me. So that's when you use silence, it's the silence is not to the other person. The silence is to silence your mind and remove all the conflicts and the imaginations, and the more details sitting in your mind so that when you talk to the other person and there is clarity. And when there is clarity, definitely the outcome is better. So that basically is my lecture on the eight rules.
AD : The eight rules, that's great.
NM : That's great Mala thank you for sharing. Hey, it's Nolan jump in right here and in this at episode, but we're gonna continue our conversation with Mala in the next episode. I'll see you over there.
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