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Key Takeaways

  • A significant issue in partnerships, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), and joint ventures is the high failure rate, which results from a focus on self-benefit rather than mutual value creation. Success requires understanding and addressing the needs of all parties, thorough planning, and strategic integration post-deal.
  • In negotiations, probing questions and showing genuine interest in others are effective strategies. This strategy helps manage or deal with senior executives, build rapport, and learn more about the other party to gain influence in the negotiation.
  • It is crucial to build a "circle of influence" and garner support before presenting ideas to decision-makers. Successful influence involves trust, respect, active listening, clear communication, evidence-based arguments, openness to feedback, and patience.
  • Gradual engagement and consensus-building before formal board proposals ensure smooth introductions and increase acceptance chances. It is important to start conversations early and expand discussions to include more stakeholders.
  • Beyond traditional leadership development training, it is vital to embed negotiation and influence skills into a company's culture and operations. This can be achieved through self-directed learning opportunities, practical application of training, and alignment of these skills with company strategy and operational procedures.
  • A shift in perspective towards focusing on mutual gains and addressing the other party's needs can fundamentally change negotiation dynamics and outcomes. Practicing active listening is essential for improving negotiation skills and building better relationships.

Executive Summary:

Hey everyone, welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Guy Ellis, a seasoned executive leader, serial entrepreneur, and M&A expert. In Part A, Guy discussed his background in negotiation and the importance of building relationships and trust in negotiations.

He also emphasized the importance of mindset in negotiations, including collaboration, active listening, and reflection. Additionally, Guy explained how negotiation styles may vary across different cultures and the need for preparation and understanding of cultural nuances. If you haven’t checked out Part A, we strongly recommend that you do that first.

With that said, let’s jump right in!

The Power Of Lasting Relationships

Firstly, Guy discusses the enduring relationships formed from shared experiences, comparing them to connections made during team mountain bike marathons. Despite not speaking to a teammate for a year, their reunion felt as if they had just spoken the week before, illustrating the depth of their connection.

Guy extends this concept to business, where he has experienced people preferring to sell their businesses to him personally due to the trust and rapport built over time. He highlights that both in sports and negotiations, success is not just about immediate results but also about cultivating qualities such as authenticity, kindness, care, grit, skill, and perseverance.

These elements, often recognized in sports, are crucial in negotiations as well, though not always considered.

Navigating The Complexities Of Nonprofit Negotiation In African Wildlife Conservation

Guy dives into the complexities of negotiation within the nonprofit sector, specifically focusing on wildlife conservation efforts in Africa. He highlights the primary challenge as aligning the diverse goals and needs of various stakeholders involved, such as communities, funding recipients, scientists, donors, and volunteers. This complexity stems from the need to understand and integrate the differing needs of these groups, which requires significant effort and is foundational to successful nonprofit operations.

Guy emphasizes that effective strategies to navigate these challenges include fostering transparent communication to maintain trust and prevent misinformation, as well as promoting education and awareness among all parties involved. It involves not only educating the beneficiaries but also enlightening scientists and donors about the nuances of nonprofit operations and the specificities of conservation efforts.

He stresses the importance of viewing the operation as a partnership based on trust, requiring flexibility and a deep understanding of the varied cultural, socioeconomic, and geographical backgrounds of all stakeholders. Guy’s insights reveal the intricate balancing act necessary to manage and align stakeholder expectations in the nonprofit sector, particularly within the context of African wildlife conservation.

A Collaborative Approach To M&As And Joint Ventures

Next, Aram points out the high failure rate of partnerships, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), and joint ventures. He notes that more than half do not achieve their anticipated value.

Guy responds by highlighting a common issue in these arrangements: a focus on self-benefit rather than understanding and addressing the needs of partners or the other party involved in the transaction. He stresses the importance of considering how to add value to the other side and the critical aspect of integration post-deal, which often gets overlooked.

Aram agrees, emphasizing that failures often stem from inadequate planning for the implementation phase and the lack of strategies for addressing potential shortfalls against benchmarks. He suggests that these issues could be mitigated through more thorough negotiation and planning stages.

Nolan suggests that understanding the other side’s interests can uncover ways to create mutually beneficial deals, which are more defensible to critics and enhance the value for all involved. One needs to think beyond immediate gains to create sustainable and mutually beneficial outcomes.

Overall, the conversation underlines a shift in perspective needed in M&As and partnerships from a self-centered approach to one that is collaborative and forward-thinking.

Mastering Boardroom Dynamics: The Power Of Questions In Negotiation Strategies

Moving on, Guy discusses the dynamics of boardroom negotiations and how they vary when interacting with different levels of internal stakeholders or external parties. He emphasizes that individuals, regardless of their position, generally enjoy talking about themselves or their areas of expertise. This tendency forms the basis of his strategy for negotiations, particularly when “managing up” or dealing with senior executives.

Guy suggests that a successful negotiator is someone who asks probing questions, showing genuine interest in the personal and professional life of the person they are engaging with. It allows the negotiator to learn more about the other party and build rapport. When Guy finds himself doing most of the talking, he sees it as an indication that the other person is effectively employing negotiation or influence tactics. In such cases, he tries to shift the dynamics by asking questions in return, aiming to make the conversation more about the other person.

According to Guy, this strategy is effective even when interacting with highly skilled negotiators. The key is to demonstrate a genuine interest in the other party, which can help turn the tables and gain influence in the negotiation.

All in all, the approach underscores the importance of asking the right questions and actively listening in negotiations to understand and connect with the other party.

Strategic Influence In Leadership: Building Support And Navigating Executive Decisions

On a similar note, Guy shares his experiences and strategies for influencing senior executives, especially when faced with rejection or pushback on suggestions.

He introduces the concept of creating a “circle of influence,” a method of building support before presenting ideas to decision-makers like a board. It involves engaging one-on-one with open-minded board members to win their support, then expanding this support base, essentially advocating for an idea as a group rather than individually.

Guy emphasizes the importance of framing proposals as collective suggestions rather than personal ones, highlighting the persuasive power of a unified group endorsement.

He outlines several key points for successfully influencing upward:

Trust and Respect: The foundation for all interactions, essential for gaining support.

Circle of Influence: Building a coalition of supporters before making a proposal.

Active Listening: Understanding the needs and goals of board members to tailor the proposal to add value.

Choosing The Right Moment: Timing the proposal for when decision-makers are receptive, such as during scheduled board meetings.

Clear And Concise Communication: Providing all necessary information ahead of time to allow for preparation.

Evidence-Based Arguments: Supporting proposals with solid evidence rather than conjecture.

Openness To Feedback: Being prepared to adapt the proposal based on feedback, recognizing that initial ideas may change significantly.

Patience And Resilience: Maintaining determination and empathy, recognizing the pressures executives face, and not taking rejection personally.

Guy’s strategy centers on understanding the perspectives of those involved, leveraging collective support, and presenting well-prepared, evidence-backed proposals. Thus, it not only facilitates smoother negotiations but also enhances the likelihood of achieving successful outcomes when influencing senior executives.

Incremental Engagement For Effective Board Proposals

Guy also discusses the importance of gradual engagement and building consensus ahead of formal board proposals. He advises against abruptly presenting materials or proposals to the executive team shortly before a board meeting.

Instead, Guy advocates for a strategic approach that involves early and gradual engagement with key stakeholders. It begins well before the actual board meeting, laying the groundwork for trust and support for the proposal.

Furthermore, Guy suggests starting the conversation as a “teaser” with individual members of his circle of influence, gauging their reaction, and gradually expanding the discussion to include more stakeholders. This ensures that by the time the proposal is formally presented, there is already a base of understanding and support. The key is to ensure that the proposal is not a surprise but rather a culmination of ongoing discussions and relationship-building efforts.

Guy believes this strategy ensures smoother proposal introductions and boosts acceptance chances by pre-aligning key decision-makers with the idea. It underscores the significance of patience, trust-building, and incremental consensus-building in successfully navigating boardroom dynamics and influencing outcomes.

Strategies For Integrating Negotiation And Influence Into Organizational DNA

Aram points out that companies spend billions annually on leadership development training, which encompasses negotiation and influence skills. However, Aram emphasizes that without a firm organizational commitment to align personnel policies, company strategy, and operational procedures with the training provided, the investment fails to yield its intended benefits.

Aram urges Guy to reveal how top companies, beyond training, embed negotiation and influence skills into their culture and operations, aiming to grasp their successful integration strategies.

Guy opposes traditional, mandatory training methods, advocating instead for self-directed learning opportunities supported by resources like a training stipend and a company book library. This approach allows employees to choose their learning materials and engage with content that interests them, adhering to the principle that people prefer to buy into learning rather than be sold to.

Guy emphasizes the importance of the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) principle. To ensure practical applicability, training should be directly related to the employees’ current work and challenges. Additionally, he recommends post-training engagement opportunities, such as sessions with authors or experts, to discuss the application of learned concepts in real-world scenarios.

Aram echoes the need for intentional design in training programs, highlighting the importance of creating a learning organization. It involves providing resources and opportunities for growth and aligning these with performance indicators and rewards to ensure that training translates into improved negotiation and deal-making skills.

Redefining Winning: A Call To Focus On Mutual Gains In Negotiations

While wrapping up the conversation, Guy leaves listeners with a thought-provoking reflection and a challenge to enhance their negotiation skills. He encourages listeners to reconsider their negotiation approach, asking them to reflect on when they last entered a negotiation with the primary goal of addressing the other party’s needs. This perspective shift, focusing on helping rather than winning, can fundamentally change the negotiation’s dynamic and outcome.

Guy challenges listeners to practice active listening more diligently. Active listening involves fully engaging with the speaker, understanding their message, recognizing the questions they ask, and responding thoughtfully. Guy strongly believes that individuals can significantly improve their relationships and negotiation outcomes by embracing active listening in both personal and professional interactions.

Guy, Aram, and Nolan discuss more on this episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. Write to us at team@negotiatex.com and share your thoughts on this informational podcast episode. Also, if you enjoyed the episode, we’d be thrilled if you could rate us on Apple Podcasts. Your ratings help us grow and improve.

Thank you for your time!


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Guy Ellis, a tenured executive leader, M&A expert and serial entrepreneur. If you haven't already checked out part A of this show, be sure to do that first.

Let's jump into the conversation with Guy.

Guy Ellis : Relationships are built and sometimes they last a lifetime. And just like if you do a mountain bike marathon and it's a team race, very often it is. The relationships that you build with your teammate over those three or five days or whatever the case may be, in a stage race, they last a lifetime. I mean, it was a really good friend of mine that I actually did a stage race within 2015 in South Africa, and it was his birthday beginning of February, and I called him and we spoke for an hour and a half and it felt like we just spoke last week, and I haven't spoken to him in a year, probably since his birthday last year or my birthday last year.

So it's these relationships that are built and they really do last a lifetime. So I think I mentioned it earlier, right? I've had people who would only sell their business to me personally, and that alone does not happen overnight. These things are built over time and I think a few key points and for listeners to take away is that authenticity, kindness, care, but then also on the other side, grit, skill, perseverance. These are all key elements in sports and in negotiations, and I don't think people think about that when they think about negotiations, when they think about sports and mountain biking marathons, it maybe does come to mind, but especially in a team event. But in negotiations, people don't really think about those things.

NM : So I have to ask out of complete ignorance cause I've never been to Africa yet. When you do these mountain bike marathons, are they through safaris and in places where lions could possibly be chasing you or anything like that?

GE : It’s a great question. So most are not right, but you do get some that are, and they're spectacular. It's not what you think. You think, oh my word, I'm going to be riding my bike and there's going to be lions chasing me. And it's really not like that. And if you are worried about animals, it's buffalo and elephant and things like that and hippos and not really lions.

Aram Donigian : I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere for a negotiation as well. There's probably many negotiations where you feel like you're being chased down by a lion or pressured by other external or internal factors.

GE : Yeah, Aram, I love that you bring that up because I felt like I've negotiated with a lot of elephants and lions in my history. It's happened and you walk you, you do walking safaris and you bump into elephants. And I joke with my sister that I nearly killed my brother-in-law a week before their wedding, right? Because I took him to Botswana in the safari and we decided to drive to one of the outlying islands and this breeding herd of elephants. So a matriarch and her sisters and their offspring were just feeding, and we kind of drove too close to them. We were still very far, probably about 150 yards away, but we drove too close to them and our vehicle got stuck in mud and we couldn't get out.

And then when we started revving the engine and spinning the wheels to get out, we kind of got bogged down and it was just a total disaster and we got charged by them and it was crazy. But how we got saved was a huge male bull elephant just decided to, he was in heat and he decided to walk into this island just at the perfect time, and they were more scared of him than us and he pushed them away and we managed to get the vehicle out and all was good, but it was a good story to take away.

AD : I love the wildlife discussion. I mean, a couple guests ago we were talking about swimming with sharks. Now we're wrestling with wild animals too, so you never know what's going to show up.

GE : Yeah, totally.

NM : So continuing on this theme here, would love to dig into your wildlife conservation nonprofit work. Have you faced any unique negotiation challenges with the nonprofit sector? And if so, would you mind sharing what challenges you faced and how you did or are working on to overcome them?

Overcoming The Complexity Of Stakeholder Alignment In African Nonprofits [5:10]

GE : Sure. So also great question, Nolan, so many, right? In the nonprofit sector, especially in Africa. So I'd say the biggest challenge is aligning the goals of the various stakeholders. And there there's a lot of them. So communities, recipients of funding, scientists, donors themselves, volunteers, et cetera, et cetera. It gets very complex because you've got to understand all of their needs and their needs are totally different. And not only do you need to understand their needs, but you've got to tie them all together.

So that is a huge task just in itself beyond just understanding their needs. And again, this is all about relationships that are built over time before you get to that point in time. So I think the biggest ways to overcome these challenges are like transparent communication is key. If you don't communicate quickly and transparently, that's an issue and you start losing trust and people start talking and you want to avoid that at all costs.

And then also education and awareness is huge on all sides. Some people think that, oh, it's just on the recipients of the funding, but it's actually very often on the scientists side and on the donor side that you have to educate and create awareness around certain nuances around nonprofits and things like that. And then the whole thing is basically a big partnership and it's based on trust. And you've got to be flexible, but you have to be cognizant of the fact that these are people usually based in all different places around the world.

And again, going back to our earlier discussion about culture, totally different upbringings, cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, et cetera, et cetera. And juggling all of that is a mammoth task.

AD : Yeah, I think we underestimate when we talk partnerships just how difficult, and it's interesting you're talking about from a nonprofit perspective and certainly as you think about corporate M&A work too, but how difficult partnerships can be. I mean, I think the research, and you can probably correct me where I'm wrong here Guy, but the research, I mean over 50% of partnerships M&As, joint ventures end in some sort of failure. They never live up. They don't capture the value we thought when we negotiated and thought and planned them.

You've talked about the need for transparent communication, building trust. I mean, what do you see as being the leading causes for these failures and the fact that, yeah, it really is hard to create the dynamics, whether it's in a nonprofit world or a corporate world to be successful?

Shifting Perspectives In M&A: Fostering Value And Integration Beyond The Transaction [08:01]

GE : Totally, totally. So Aram, I'd love to get your take on that, but my thinking is that people are going into these M&A transactions as an example, thinking about what I can get out for myself and partners go in and they're like, well, what can I get out for myself? And they're not actually going in and saying, what do my partners need? What do they want? What are their desires? What are their ambitions? And same thing for an M&A transaction, what are your expectations of this deal? How are we going to integrate?

People are worrying about closing the deal and not worrying about what would the other side like an integration to look like, what would make them happy from an integration perspective? And very often it's none of the stuff that you would even think about or include in a contract to close the deal. And I think that's the biggest thing is, and I'd love to get your take and yours as well, Nolan, but from my perspective, I think the most obvious thing that happens is it's all about me and not about how can I actually help them add value to the other side.

AD : Yeah, I totally agree. And the expectation management, particularly as it relates to integration, I mean, I personally think that people don't think through implementation far enough. We get so excited to make the deal and we're so excited about the possibility that we don't go to the final step, which is, and what does this look like in implementation? How do we hold ourselves accountable? What happens when it doesn't achieve? We don't achieve the benchmarks that we are hoping to. How do we come back and have those conversations and correct. To me, those are the things that become problematic. And we could have addressed them during the negotiation, but we didn't.

NM : And then I think the two things that come to mind for me is whenever we're thinking about the other person at the table is when we have opportunities to expand the pie. So instead of just thinking about how am I going to get the most out of this deal, how are we going to sweeten the deal for both of us? And then the second part of that is how are we going to make this a deal that we can defend to our toughest critics? So as soon as we walk away from that table, you got to think about all the other stakeholders who are not presently there, but are going to be involved in the deal, so…

GE : Yeah, great point, Nolan.

AD : Talking a little bit more about kind of boardroom negotiations guy, do the dynamics of how you approach an internal conversation negotiation discussion with, again, internal key stakeholders, does it change when you're dealing with an executive who's incredibly senior or maybe just an expert in their domain versus when you're dealing maybe with, I don’t know, lower level internal folks or even external stakeholders?

Mastering Influence: The Power Of Asking The Right Questions In Negotiations [10:41]

GE : Yeah, absolutely. It definitely does change. So it doesn't matter who you talk to, they love talking about themselves or what they think they know, and I'm making a generalization, but that's really a good generalization is people love talking about themselves or just love talking. So when I'm in that situation and kind of managing up for want of a better term, if I'm the one talking, I know there's something wrong that's not wrong, but that's when I know the other person is a good negotiator or influencer.

So if they're asking me the probing questions, business or personal. Guy, how the kids did you ride this past weekend? How's it going with your move to Boca? All these questions, I know that if they're interested and with authenticity showing interest in me and they want to learn more about me, they know what they're doing. So it's not a mistake that they're in their position as an executive or senior executive in a company.

If they're asking me the questions and I'm the one talking, I need to, I quite quickly try catch myself on that and pause and try turn the table and essentially let them talk. And if they don't, ask them questions, but try turn the table where you are showing the interest. And even if they are an expert in influencing or they have that skill and they're good at it, you can still change it.

NM : Thanks for your perspective Guy on that. Kind of sticking with this theme of the boardroom, have you ever had to deal with senior executive who refuses to hear you out or rejects your suggestions? And if so, can you share the example and what worked when influencing upward?

Building A Circle Of Influence: Strategic Approaches For Persuasive Advocacy [12:27]

GE : Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So it's happened so many times. You very, very often get pushed back and at all stages of your career. It's not necessarily when you're young or in middle management or any of the different cases, but all of these interactions are built on a foundation of trust and respect. So, I've had it so many times. I actually came up with a term, I don't think I came up with it, but I learned this and it's creating a circle of influence. So let's say that I want to go to the board and I want to convince them to do a special project that I think would move the needle. I never go in alone.

So I try bring on a few board members that I know are kind and caring and open to listening and have an open mind and all of those good things. And I try to get a one-on-one with them. And then when I've had a one-on-one with them and I've feel like I've won them over, I try to get other people on my side, let's call it, right? And creating that circle of influence is really, really important because if I just go in and I say, Hey guys, this is my idea, I think we should do this. And you'll notice that I used “I” and “my,” right? Compared to if I had to go in and say, we've discussed this at length, we think this is a great idea, what do you all think about it? And then my circle of influence says, we think that's a great idea as well and we've discussed it and we've thought about this and we've thought about that.

And then you've got a whole team kind of negotiating for you and you're not taking credit for anything. And I think that's the key point is you create the circle of influence, you understand their needs and focus on active listening for what they're trying to achieve because they just want to add value. Board members are there because they want to add value, they want to be a key person on the team and they have a fiduciary duty.

So understanding their needs and active listening is really important. Then creating that circle of influence. And then beyond that with the executives, you need to choose the right moment. So you can't just go to them at some random point in time. They need to be expecting this. And that's why board meetings are really good because they have agendas and they're very good at having agendas. So putting something on the agenda is something that everyone can expect and wait for and prepare for.

And even getting out materials beforehand helps. So communicating clearly and concisely and in a timely manner is really important. And then having evidence like evidence-based arguments instead of just arriving and just kind of taking a flier and saying, Hey, I think we should do this. That's the totally wrong way to do it. So create your evidence, have your circle of influence, and then be open to feedback and being able to adapt what you go in with is not going to be your final product, and it might get shut down completely for reasons you haven't even thought about.

But being open to feedback and adapting is key. And then having, again, like we discussed earlier is assistance and patience. Those are really, really key. And then beyond that, having empathy and the strategic communication and then resilience because being shut down doesn't mean you did anything wrong or that your idea was terrible. So you have to be resilient and you also have to be empathetic because very often executives are under huge amounts of stress, they're under pressure, they want to do the best that they can do, and you need to put yourself in their shoes. So I hope that's helpful and that answers your question.

AD : I would say incredibly helpful. In fact, I was just making a note, Hey, we need to come back, Nolan, and we need to make an infographic on what he just shared there in terms of keys to managing up because there were, if I counted maybe seven different things, there really good points to build. Just go one step further here on a couple of those points. When you talked about timing and sharing data, a question I commonly get is, Hey, how much do I give a senior exec as a read ahead?

And I guess a couple of thoughts there, and I know it's not a perfect answer, but I'm curious to get your take is I want to give 'em enough to kind of let 'em know the direction we're going and at the same time if they dig too far into it, then it might unravel the whole purpose of the meeting.

So do you have any sense and gut feeling? I know it probably changes from context and situation, but how much read ahead do you provide in terms of here's what I have, here's what this is going to be about, what do you do from that perspective,

Laying The Groundwork: The Art Of Gradually Building Consensus For Board Proposals [17:09]

GE : Aram, I think that's a really, really great and key question. So going back to our discussion earlier on patients and the years that you build trust and it takes you to actually get to a negotiation point that's no different in this scenario. So you don't just arrive at the board meeting or a week before the board meeting, just randomly send out an email to the executive team and say, to be discussed at board meeting as the subject and just attach materials regardless of length.

This should be something that you've built trust in them already, or you've planted the seed, you've updated them on your progress. This is something that they know exists and they know that you're working on and you're building that relationship with them and trust in this product or special project or whatever that you're working on. So going into that board meeting or sending out the materials beforehand is the time zero.

But as we've discussed, that starts at time minus five. So it's the same thing is that the first time I bring these things up is in a end of a meeting and usually it's with just one person in the circle of influence, just as like a teaser. What do they think? They love it, fantastic. Let me just bring it up in a teaser format with another board member or another person on my circle of influence. And when I felt that these 4, 5, 6 people have loved the idea and think it's great and willing to work with me and they're part of the circle of influence, then I just continuously build out that circle of influence to a point where I mention it to the executive and then just grow it from there.

So it's not what I send the week before and then put it on the agenda. This is something that is like everyone's aware of it and it's built up over time and it's not a shock to the system or a surprise for anyone.

AD : Organizations are spending a lot of money, billions of dollars each year on leadership development training. And that includes negotiation and influence skills. And unfortunately without organizational commitment and discipline towards ensuring personnel policies, company strategy, operational procedures align with that training, the value of paying for this developmental training, it's never realized.

In your experience Guy, what do you see the very best, the top tier, the top 10% of companies do to raise the bar around these sorts of skills, negotiation skills, influence skills for everyone within their organization beyond training?

Revitalizing Employee Development: Embracing Self-Directed Learning And Simplification [19:47]

GE : Love the question, Aram. So essentially the old school way of doing things is dead, right? Forcing people's hands and things like that just doesn't work right? And all the research backs that up. So essentially having non-mandatory training, but having a training stipend and the training library for people to tap into at will is really important. And I've seen it work very often, A book club or a book library, a company book library where you get a stipend and you can get as many books as you want as long as they're on the company library and just letting people choose.

And I use this term a lot, my M&A team, investment team, everyone knows me for this term and it's people hate being sold to, but people love buying things. And that mindset is key in training as well for employees. So again, you need a willing buyer and a willing seller, and your willing buyer in this case is the employee or even the executive to be willingly trained. And again, another really key point here is the KISS principle. Keep It Simple.

So related to the work that they're doing now, actually help them with what the challenges they're facing now and make it practical and then beyond that, be there for them afterwards. So bring the authors in for question days and all that type of stuff where after reading the book, you can actually ask questions and ask for practical tips and relate it to the work you're working on now.

AD : Yeah, I appreciate what you're saying. There's intentionality required to make those things happen. The book resources, the relating to the current challenges they're in, the being there afterwards. I mean, to me that speaks to being a learning organization, reviewing what we've learned, tying in KPIs to your performance and making sure there's alignment between what am I really rewarding you for and the way in which you went and negotiated the deal. All these things are important considerations and if we're not thinking and talking about 'em, they don't just magically happen.

GE : Totally, totally. They're all intentional, and if employees want to better themselves and you have the correct training available, they will tap into it. It's just about creating that intention and keeping it simple and giving them access to it where it's easy.

NM : Guy, you obviously live a very demanding life between your career and personal life. Have you found success in negotiating at home? And if so, you've got to tell me. I don't think that this is an area that I've mastered. Not sure about Aram, but I know I haven't, so.

AD : You're not sure. I think we spent enough time together. I haven't either, and if not, we can line the kids up and they can talk about my lack of mastery. So yeah, guy, we're open ears here.

Applying Negotiation Techniques With Children: Empathy, Choice, And Perspective [22:48]

GE : Aram, I think we got to learn from you, right? But yeah, I'm learning every day. I think that's the key. As long as you're moving forward, you're in the right direction. But it's one thing negotiating with a partner, but I think young children without a fully developed prefrontal cortex, they take this challenge to a whole new level.

I think the principles remain the same with kids and adults. And patience, which we spoke about earlier. Care. One thing I find works really well with my daughter is I drop to her eye level. So I get down on one knee and I hold her hands in my hands or I hold her face. Sometimes she doesn't allow me to hold her face, but I'll hold her hands in my hands or I'll hold her face and I feel that that makes her feel secure and safe.

And whenever she sees me drop down on one knee and put my hands out, she runs to me. So for her, it's like a safe space. And then when I'm in that position, I ask myself, what are her needs and wants right now? Right? You've got to use that empathy, right? I find myself doing this a lot, right?

Going back and saying, I don't really remember when I was three, but I kind of have that inner child inside of me. So how do I tap into that inner child and try to put myself in her shoes and listen actively again. And again, one thing we haven't really touched on is multiple offers and the package focus. And one of the key things I've learned and has helped me extensively as a parent is the “this or that” technique, which is multiple offers, right?

Basically saying, okay, do you want this dress or that dress? Do you want to brush your teeth or do you want me to brush your teeth? These things, do you want carrots or cucumbers? This or that technique has really been an amazing technique that I use every day, multiple times a day. Because if you just say, do you want a carrot? No, I don't want a carrot. Do you want the pink dress? No, I don't want the pink dress. So again, it's like how do you just get to an agreement and this or that puts power back in her hands. And especially if I drop down on one knee and hold her hands, it just makes it easier.

AD : Lovely, right? I mean the power of choice and getting to their perspective. Got to tell a quick story here, guy, you can probably relate to. When we were living in Colorado, we had a little raspberry area and we had a storm coming in. Raspberries were ripe. My oldest son was out with me and at the time, I don't know, three or four in the age you're talking about with your daughter. And I said, Hey, we got to pick these berries quickly.

And I was focused on time and efficiency, get these things picked. He's not keeping up with me as we're going through the little berry patch to pick up. I said, come on, come on, son, hurry up, hurry up, hurry up. He said, dad, you're missing some. I don't miss picking raspberries. I mean, I get 'em all. I know how good I am, right?

At first, I didn't respond with the empathy and care that you're describing. I was more focused on, no, I didn't miss anything. Hurry up, you're lagging behind. It was when I stopped and I got down on a knee, as you're describing, and I looked at what he was talking about, he was absolutely correct. There were raspberries underneath the leaves. I couldn't see they were down at his level. He was absolutely right. It took me though, taking his perspective to see that. And anyways, it was a lasting point for me that I'm going to always miss things when I'm only looking at the problem through my lens.

GE : Absolutely love that story. Thank you, Aram. Yeah, totally.

AD : Well, listen, this has been a fantastic conversation, a lot of fun. I know we've covered a lot of ground. I can imagine that we've only scratched the surface of the things that you think about and write about Guy. You know, as kind of a final maybe thing to leave with listeners what didn't Nolan and I ask you that you'd like to maybe share either as a final thought or perhaps a challenge for folks who really want to get better as negotiators?

Embracing Active Listening In Negotiations: A Challenge To Deepen Connections [26:48]

GE : So I appreciate that, Aram, and it's really been a pleasure speaking with you both and happy to jump on another chat any time to discuss more. But yeah, I think if I had to leave with one thought and one challenge for all the listeners, a thought would be, when's the last time you entered a negotiation thinking about helping the other side accomplish their most pressing needs?

So think about that. When's the last time? Maybe not for two, but for the listeners and in terms of the challenge, I just say try and listen more, but not just listen. Listen actively, right? Be conscious of who is talking, who is asking the questions, what are they actually saying? And then just see what happens to relationships in your personal and business life when you ask and actively listen more.

And I hope that's helpful, and I'd love anyone to contact me or you guys, and then let me know how that helps them or doesn't.

NM : Absolutely.

AD : Really appreciate that and we'll make sure that our listeners know how to get in touch with you and can reach out to you for follow up. Guy, thanks so much for spending the time with us today.

GE : Thank you both so much. Thank you, Nolan. Thank you, Aram. I really appreciate the invite and it's really been a pleasure speaking with you both.

NM : So that is it for us on today's podcast. If you haven't already, please rate review and subscribe to the NEGOTIATEx podcast and we'll see you in the next episode.

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