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Key Takeaways

  • Good listening skills are crucial in negotiation, and active listening involves being curious, setting aside one’s ego, and validating the other party’s words by repeating and clarifying them.
  • Striking a balance between listening and advocating for oneself is important in negotiation. It’s crucial to focus on getting what one needs rather than just what one wants and understand the other party’s needs to negotiate effectively.
  • “No” is not always a barrier but rather an opportunity to negotiate. It’s important to understand the reason behind the “no” and to use curiosity to turn disagreement into an agreement.
  • Emotions are inherent to human beings and cannot be separated from the negotiation process. Understanding and managing emotions are important to become a better negotiator.
  • Soft skills and self-negotiation are crucial to becoming a better negotiator. Focusing on oneself can lead to influencing the situation and becoming a stronger negotiator.

Executive Summary

Thanks for joining us on another episode of the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Lousin Mehrabi, a professional negotiator, trainer, and inspirational speaker. 

Last time around, she discussed a variety of topics including how she became a negotiator, the role of family and culture in shaping negotiating skills, and common myths and fears around negotiation. She also emphasized the importance of authenticity and self-awareness in negotiation and provided advice on self-discovery and personal development.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, we suggest doing that first. With that said, let’s jump right in.

Advice On Improving Listening Skills: Being Curious, Putting Ego Aside, And Validating Others

Nolan resumes the conversation by asking Lousin what it truly means to listen to others and how can students of negotiation improve their listening skills. In reply, Lousin highlights that many people struggle to truly listen to others because they are focused on preparing a response rather than actively listening to what the counterparty is saying. 

People often think that they already know what the other party means or allow their ego to get in the way, affecting their active listening skills. She suggests that the key to being a good listener is to be curious, put aside one’s ego, and validate the other party by repeating their words and asking for clarification. 

Lousin also advises listeners to refrain from presenting opinions when they have not been asked, and to focus solely on the speaker during the course of the conversation. Lastly, she notes that listening is a gift that we should all be giving to the people we encounter. 

Striking a Balance in Negotiations: Getting What You Need vs. What You Want

Moving on, Lousin talks about striking a balance between listening and advocating for oneself in a negotiation. She suggests that in a negotiation the focus should be on getting what one needs rather than just what one wants and that it’s important to be clear on one’s non-negotiables and why they matter. 

By being detached from the outcome and exploring alternative ways to meet one’s needs, a person can become more relaxed and powerful while negotiating. Lousin emphasizes that listening is crucial in understanding the other party’s needs, which can lead to more effective negotiation.

Leveraging the Power of “No”: Using Curiosity and Negotiation to Turn Disagreement into Agreement

Aram wonders how to use the word “no” as a tool to re-engage more effectively. He acknowledges that “no” indicates resistance but wants to know how to learn from it and use it to their advantage. 

As a response, Lousin suggests that “no” is the beginning of a disagreement and an opportunity to negotiate. To transform a “no” into a “yes,” a negotiator needs to understand the reason behind the “no” and where it comes from. This requires curiosity and the ability to put one’s ego aside. 

By asking questions and understanding the other party’s perspective, a negotiator can find a way to turn the “no” into a “yes.” According to her, negotiation is a noble act of turning a disagreement into an agreement, and it’s important to approach negotiation with an open and curious mindset.

The Role of Emotions in Negotiations: Understanding and Managing Them

When asked how to regulate emotions during negotiations, Lousin highlights that emotions cannot be separated from the process because they are inherent to human beings. She suggests that emotions are not enemies but rather serve to protect us. Every emotion has a role, and it is important to understand them. 

When you know your emotions, you fear them less and can feel them go through you without reacting. After all, an emotion is a physiological reaction to what the body perceives. When one focuses purely on the emotion without judging or reacting to it, they can calm down in just 90 seconds. 

With self-awareness and self-control, one can significantly reduce the effect of emotion on themselves and be perceived as calm and poised. Therefore, it is worth investing time and energy to know and understand one’s emotions.

Differences in Training Individuals and Teams in Negotiation and the Importance of Self-Understanding in Coaching

Moving on, Nolan asks Lousin about the differences between training individuals and teams in negotiation and what makes a great negotiation team. In reply, Lousin highlights that training a team in negotiation involves identifying each individual’s natural tendencies and strengths, and weaknesses and then using that knowledge to create the best mix and match of skills and approaches for a negotiation. 

On the other hand, coaching an individual one-to-one involves:

  • Going deeper into understanding oneself.
  • Identifying triggers.
  • Healing them to become better negotiators.

Lousin compares this to walking through life with open wounds. According to her, coaching can help put a cover over those wounds until they are healed so that one can handle the “salt” that life throws at them without reacting negatively.

The Importance of Soft Skills and Self-Negotiation in Becoming a Better Negotiator

Lastly, Lousin shares how she became a better negotiator after her son was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, as she had to negotiate daily for him. She had to negotiate with medical doctors and insurance and make difficult decisions regarding her son’s treatments.

On this note, Mrs. Mehrabi emphasizes the importance of soft skills in negotiations and becoming a better negotiator by incarnating them and working on oneself. She shares that the strongest people on earth are those who have strong inner negotiations, who know how to talk to themselves, and who can apply the most important negotiation skills to themselves. 

Lousin also talks about the difficulty of detachment in negotiations that cannot be won, such as in her son’s illness, and how focusing on oneself can lead to influencing the situation.

Lousin, Aram, and Nolan delve into a wide range of topics. We invite you to share your thoughts on this highly informative podcast by emailing us at team@negotiatex.com

We appreciate you tuning in!


Nolan Martin : Hey everyone. Thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Lousin Mehrabi, professional negotiator, trainer, and speaker. If you haven't already checked out part A of the show, be sure to do that first. Let's jump into the conversation with Lousin.

NM : I imagine, you know, listening is a critical skill for negotiation that you have to be at least good at it.

Lousin Mehrabi : Mm-hmm [affirmative].

NM : And we hear a lot of people say, of course, I hear what the other person is saying, how can we negotiate if I didn't [laugh]? Well, for you, what does it mean when someone is actually listening and like really listening well, and what sorts of things get in our way of listening?

The Scarcity Of Good Listening And How To Become A Better Listener [1:46]

LM : If you think about it, if I ask you, “give me the name of three people in your life that are really good listeners.” You would probably have to think a bit. And then, you'll actually remember conversations where you really felt listened to, and why do you remember? Because it's so rare. Like most people can't listen at all, at all.

And the better you become at listening, the more you're going to notice that and the more it's going to piss you off. People don't listen. [laugh], like I get really triggered by people who don't listen. So that's like, it has become a pain point in my life because you just realize nobody's listening. Nobody's truly listening, and that's a real problem. Of course, they're hearing and their ears work, but that doesn't mean they're listening. Now, there are loads of ways to be able to be a better listener and this is something that you can Google and find.

Let me tell you what prevents you from being a good listener, because those are things people often don't realize. Number one, whenever you're having a conversation with somebody, there's a part of your brain that is preparing the answer. While you're preparing the answer, you're not listening because you're thinking about your answer. That's one. Number two, somebody's sharing something and there's a part of your brain that goes, “oh, I know what they mean.” Boom. You're not listening anymore because you think you know.

So, what is the antidote of that? Curiosity. Stay as curious as possible. And if you think you know what they're saying, then since you're such a good listener, focus then on how they're saying it. Okay? Now, what else? When you think you know what they want. Boom, you're not listening anymore, you see? So this is all happening inside of our heads, and that is preventing us from listening.

If you really want to listen, you want to put your ego aside and pretend that you are completely stupid, that you know absolutely nothing, and that it's up to them to teach you about the world. That's how you go in. Like, I know nothing like it's a blank sheet. Like, I assume nothing, I know nothing, and you are going to tell me everything, and you want to soak up everything. What do they say? How do they say it? When do they pause? What do they not say? Why did they use that word? And then repeat that back to them. Like, I found it interesting that you said that, what is it that you exactly meant with, did I understand well that. And make them validate, because this will make them feel extremely heard, and they will correct you if you understood it wrong. So these are the basic tactics that help you listen better.

But again, it's an inside job. Listening is inside your head. It's not with your ears, with your ears, you're just taking in the info. Okay, fantastic. But what you do with it is often what stops the listening. So, the next conversation that you have, you can tell yourself, I am not allowed to say anything about me. I am not allowed to agree. I am not allowed to disagree. I am only here to verify If I understood well, and if I verified at least three times, then I'm allowed to say something back.

And every active way of listening that you do count in the three. Like for example, if somebody's talking and you say, “mm-hmm”[affirmative], that's an invitation for them to continue talking. If somebody's talking and you say, “tell me more”, that's an invitation for them to continue talking. Those are the ways that you listen and count to three, make sure that you've done three of those before you actually talk or talk about yourself etc.

Another tip, if somebody doesn't ask you your opinion, don't give it. That's already another way of listening, because we're so keen on saying what we want: “Oh, I know what you mean”. “You know what happened to me”. “Oh, I see where you're going”. You're not listening anymore. So, I've had entire coaching sessions with people. Once it happened, this was crazy, but is the biggest example. Like, I was coaching a CEO of a company who was a real like morning person, woke up very early and did the coaching sessions before he went to work.

So we did, we met at 5:30 or 6:00 AM in the morning, and he knew how it worked. He would come to me, he knew what he wanted to work on, I would be there, listen, and we would discuss whatever it is that he wanted in that session, and then he would go off to work.

Now, one time he came and he said, “okay, Lousin, I've been thinking about this issue and this is what I really want to work on during this session”. Said, “okay, tell me more”. And he started talking. And while he was talking, he was always walking because that's the way he processed his thinking. So I was sitting, he was walking, and I kid you not, during 45 minutes, I only said, “mm-hmm “[affirmative], “tell me more”, “what else?” And then things like that and repeat back to him what I thought that I understood and mostly didn't say anything at all. You know what happened, guys? After 45 minutes, so he talked, he analyzed his own thoughts, he came to his own solution. He decided what he was going to do about this thing, and he said, “Lousin, thank you so much. This was one of our best sessions ever.”

AD : [laugh],

LM : I had said nothing, not my opinion, not anything, not advice, nothing[laugh]. And it was just create a space for him to listen to himself. And he came to his solutions. He loved it, and he went and voila. That is the power of listening. And you tell me who you know, that in 45 minutes does not give their opinion. Nobody.

AD : Very few people.

LM : Yeah. Because we think it has to be a ping pong, but it doesn't have to be a ping pong. And it's such a valuable skill. It's such a valuable gift, to gift somebody, of saying you matter now. I don't have to talk about me. I don't have you to listen to me. You talk and I'll be here for you. It's a gift. Listening is a gift. So yeah, try to gift it next time [laugh].

AD : It's so difficult. You know, we hear from so many folks, which is, if I'm quiet for 45 minutes, I give, I create that space. I'm losing the opportunity to advocate for myself and for my own desires. And so you know, and I get that. How do you reconcile this balance between listening and being curious and, and inquiring, and creating that space with, with the need in a negotiation to still be able to advocate, maybe advocate, you know, effectively, hopefully advocate back to.

The Power of Detachment from the Outcome in Negotiations [8:25]

LM : Well, I don't think in a negotiation, you necessarily have to advocate. You need to get what you want, right? And what you want should be what you need. And this is already where a lot of negotiations go wrong. The want for me is the need plus ego. Now, what is the need, Then? The need is your why. Why is it that you're negotiating, what is really at stake, and what is not negotiable? Those three things should be the same thing.

Your non-negotiable is, should satisfy your need and should be the point where you walk away if you can't get that met. Now, on top of that, we're adding the extras and the bells and, that makes it your want. And then, because you've been taught in a negotiation book that you should never ask for what you need, but always for more, you add a little percentage and that becomes your position. Okay?

But most people are not even clear on their need. They just know what they want. They know the nice to have, but they don't know what they need, why they're negotiating. So it's very clear, it's very important to ask yourself clearly, why am I negotiating, what matters to me? And when you do that and you're crystal clear on your need, all of a sudden you become much more relaxed because you realize there are different ways to get that need met. And it's not necessarily through this negotiation. It's not even necessarily through negotiating.

It's not this deal or nothing. There are a thousand other ways if you're a bit creative to satisfy that need. So that already calms you down and brings you in a more powerful position because it helps you be more detached from the outcome. Now, when you're detached from the outcome, that's when you really become powerful because you realize you can have that need met and much more by listening and understanding what it is that they need, which again, you can't do if you're not properly listening.

You will get way more done once you understand what the other party needs, and you will only understand what they need if you have the curiosity and the mindset and the skill to shut up and listen, [laugh], listen so actively that your ears hurt [laugh].

AD : Staying on this topic of listening well.

LM : Hmm.

AD : How about when you hear the no, the no is coming through clear. it's resistance of some form. What can I do to use that? No. Can I do that? Can I use a no and learn from a no to be able to re engage more effectively?

From Disagreement to Agreement: The Noble Act of Negotiation [10:59]

LM : Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the no is where the negotiation starts, right? We only negotiate when there's a disagreement. If there's an agreement, you don't negotiate, you communicate, you talk, you debate maybe, but you don't negotiate. The negotiation starts when there's a disagreement. And negotiation is nothing more than this Noble and I repeat noble act, noble decision of wanting to go from a disagreement to an agreement. It's much easier to fight, it's much easier to manipulate, it's much easier to argue. But that's not negotiation. Negotiation is deciding, “I want to go from this disagreement to an agreement.”

Now, ‘no’ is therefore the beginning of a disagreement, and therefore the opportunity to negotiate. Now, once you get a no, again, you don't have to negotiate. You can also become aggressive. You can become annoying. You can do, you know, different types of things, [laugh]. But if you decide to negotiate, that's only the beginning. So, then how do you transform a ‘no’. That's the whole art and science of negotiation, right?

And it starts with understanding; why are you, where does this ‘no ‘come from, what is the reason that you're saying ‘no’? And ‘no’ can be to a product, to a service? A ‘no’ can be to the way you presented it. And ‘no’ can be just, “I'm in a bad mood, therefore I'm going to say no.” Like, look at our kids.

So, ‘no’ is the beginning. And again, if you have that curiosity and the capacity to put your ego aside, that's when the party starts. That's when you start asking, okay, where does this come from? How come you say that? What is it that you're actually saying no to? When you say no to that, do you mean yes to that? And there's then a thousand ways to make somebody talk for you to understand what really matters. So yeah, for me, a ‘no’ is like, oh, yes, now we can negotiate.

NM : [laugh] Well beyond getting a ‘no’. How about when someone tries to use a dirty tactic, difficult behavior, or common negotiation trick? How do you respond in that situation to stay on task and get your goals met?

Navigating Negotiations with Lies and Misinformation in a Productive Manner [12:57]

LM : Excellent question. For me, and not everybody might agree with this, is call it out. Like, don't pretend it's not happening. Call it out, put it on the table. Say it. For example, one of the most used tactics is bad faith. What is bad faith, is somebody lies to you or says something that's not true, however you want to call it. You know, they're lying to you. They know, you know, they're lying to you, and they still lie to you. Okay? Bad faith, 9% of the population is chronically doing it all the time. So, we all know them, you know, people, what has been done to us, and we might be people who do that. This is something that's very common. Now, how do you deal with it? The best way, And this, again, takes self-control so that you don't let your ego, so “I know you're lying to me”.

You know, that's not going to help you much [laugh]. It's going to be about calling it out, showing that you understand what's happening, and at the same time, not burn bridges, not close doors. Allow them the opportunity to change their behavior. For example, let's talk about business negotiations. I mean, that's where my expertise is. somebody comes to you and says, okay, thank you for your quote or your proposition, Well received. we had a competitor who came, who wanted, let's say, I don't know, you're installing windows. Thank you for your proposition. We had a competitor come and for exactly the same product and exactly the same service, they were 20% cheaper. Okay? Now, you know, as a matter of fact, that that's impossible. Impossible. You know, the market, you know your product, you know that that's impossible. And they're bullshitting you. How do you respond?

By saying something like, okay, thank you for sharing that with me, based on the information that I have. this doesn't seem possible for me. Maybe, it's a different type of service. Maybe, it's a different type of product. Maybe, it's a different type of after sale services, or whatever it is. There must be something that differentiates us, which explains the difference in price that you're mentioning.

Based on my level of quality, my level of service, and the, you know, whatever it is that I'm offering, I know that this is the best price that I can offer. If you go and see that there is actually a difference and you would like to discuss it again, please let me know? If you see that it is exactly everything exactly, exactly, exactly the same, then unfortunately I can't be the best price at this moment.

AD : You said that so calmly and in control, and in the moment. when somebody's negotiating in bad faith or using a dirty trick or tactic. I mean, it just feels like it's just going to like trigger emotions.

LM : Mm-hmm. [affirmative]

AD : Can you say a little bit about like, emotions and negotiation and how might we better regulate both our own as well as the other persons, when emotions are starting to get in the way?

Emotions in Negotiations: Why They Matter and How to Manage Them [16:16]

LM : Oh, this is the million dollar question, isn't it? Any negotiator that tells you negotiations and emotions should be separated is living in La La Land. [laugh], it's impossible. It's impossible. We are human beings, and you can't say, you know what? I'm going to bring my neocortex with me today, but my limbic brain is going to stay home. Okay? Like, how do you do that? It doesn't work that way. Wherever we go, we're taking our limbic brain with us where emotions come from. Now, realize that emotions are not our enemies. They're not there to piss you off and make you react in a crazy way. they're not there to you know, make a jerk out of yourself. Emotions are there to protect us. Every emotion has a role. So it's really worth investing time and energy in understanding emotions.

Like, do an emotional course. Do an emotional intelligence course. Do something, whatever you can to learn about emotions, because if you don't master your emotions, they will master you. And it's really worth learning about. Now, we're not going to spend five hours talking about that, which I could, because I love this aspect. But when you become friends with your emotions, meaning understanding that they're there to serve you, you all of a sudden fear them less and are actually able to feel them go through you without panicking or feeling the need to do something with it. Because an emotion is nothing more than a physiological reaction to what it is that your body perceives.

So, that might be a threat and then your brain says, “come on, we're going to send the fear hormones.” That can be somebody crossing your boundaries or your non-negotiables, and then boom, we're going to send anger through.

When you see it that way, that every emotion is coming there to serve you, you don't have to react. And you know, this is a physiological reaction. This is my body and my brain working together to protect me. That's the only reason this is happening. Protection to save you, so that you continue to live, and then you know, you make some babies. That's the whole reason we are here, according to your brain, then all of a sudden it's not your enemy anymore. And did you know, if you are purely focused on the emotion that goes through your body and you don't judge it, you don't wish it to go away, and you don't do anything with it, you just let it be. Do you know how long it takes for it to calm down again?

AD : 15, 20 minutes?

LM : 90 seconds!

AD : 90 seconds?

NM : Oh.

Self-Control in Negotiations: How to Heal Your Triggers and Remain Calm [18:54]

LM : 90 seconds. That's it. The physiological reaction of the hormones and whatever it is that is going through your body because of that emotion, it's just 90 seconds. Now, the beauty of this is that it's 90 seconds for everybody. So, including your counterpart, including your toddler, including the biggest terrorist, which sometimes is your toddler, okay? [laugh], it's just 90 seconds. If you can be the bigger person in those 90 minutes, you can win so many negotiations.

AD : Wow.

LM : If you can keep your mouth shut in those 90 minutes, you can win so many negotiations. Don't fear them. Know that it's a physiological reaction. Know that it's there to protect you, you know that it's just 90 minutes, as long as you don't keep judging it, yeah. So, if you start telling your story, I don't want to be angry, I don't want to be angry, boom, you're adding 90 seconds.

Just relax, let it be, and it will calm down so quickly. Now, another way to calm it down is, you know, once you know that, okay, I just have to chill here for 90 seconds, is by putting a label on it. Name it, “oh, I see that this created anger in you”, or “it seems like this made you angry,”. boom, You allow the other person to calm down and reconnect with their thinking brain again. So emotions are going to be there, emotions are going to be part of every negotiation you have. Just like, ego is, just like your background is, just like your traumas are, just like your triggers are. All those things are coming with you. That's why self-awareness is so important. But once you become aware of your own triggers, and once you decide to heal them, you are becoming really dangerous because you're becoming untouchable like people, right?

You know, you don't, you have less buttons to push. And that's why I believe self-control is an aspect that we have to learn to develop our entire lives. And, it's such a self. It's such a personal development thing to do, to heal your traumas, to understand your triggers, to understand about emotional intelligence, to know your stress responses to physiologically be connected to your body and say, what is it that I'm feeling right now and where? Like this question alone, majority of people can't answer.

But when you know that about yourself, that's how you can remain calm. And then people come to you and say, “oh my god, you're so posed”, “oh my god, how did you do it to stay that calm?” Well, that was all that work that I've been doing, so that in this moment I could react this way.

AD : Hard skills, the life skills, right? Hard skills.

LM : Absolutely

AD : That we were talking about earlier.

LM : Mm-hmm. [affirmative].

NM : So you've had to train teams to negotiate. How does training a team differ from training individuals? And what do great negotiation teams do well?,

Approach to Coaching Teams against Approach to Coaching Individuals [21:41]

LM : Great question as well. Now, when we are training teams, we want to use the advantages of some and the disadvantages. We want to make people aware of their advantages and disadvantages as a team. So for example, you want to know in a team who is negotiating together, who is, for example, making decisions fast on intuition and who needs more data and is more rational and needs more, you know, like files and excel to be able to make a decision.

And then you want to use the best of both. So you want to combine that as a duo and send them in because there are situations where you have to make decisions without having the data, but there are also situations where you really want to wait for the data before you make any important decisions. So having that duo is very good.

And that is what we do when we negotiate teams for people to understand from each other, what are your natural tendencies and how can we use that so that we have the best of all on the negotiation table?

How can we use your language skills? How can we use your accent in a certain situation to help bond with somebody? And what is the situational expertise that you bring in? What is your gender or skin color or whatever, how can that serve us in a certain way? So when we are training teams, that's what we do, so that everybody becomes aware and we use tests and analysis for that becomes aware of your own and your colleagues strengths and weaknesses so that you can make the best mix and match of what would work well with that counterpart in that situation, which is, again, completely different for negotiation next day, right?

Now, when I'm coaching somebody one-to-one, that's where we go all in these aspects of understanding to know yourself better. And it's not about negotiating, it's about becoming a better negotiator. So, if you work with me one-to-one, whether you want it or not, we're going to go deep because I'm going to understand quite quickly how I can trigger you, and I'm going to keep triggering you until you understand it as well. And we fix it, we heal it, we do something with it. So that your trigger then becomes, it's like we are all walking through life with all these open wounds, okay? All these open wounds from stuff that happened in the past and somebody who said something and the divorce, your parent’s divorce, that left a mark, and this and that and that.

All those things that we all have. And then we're walking through life and people are walking around with salt, boom, boom, boom, pouring salt in your open wound that is still bleeding. And then you react saying, “ah”, and you're like, “shit, I can't believe I said that”. So it's all about how can we put a cover over it until we understand what it is, and then we actually go and heal it. Because once it's healed, once it's closed, it doesn't matter if somebody puts salt on it because they're going to continue putting salt on it. That's called life. But you are not going to react in a way that you regret because you don't have to. You still feel the salt, but it doesn't hurt as much.

AD : If you don't mind us asking, if you'll allow us to do, we'd like to ask you a question, how you've applied these same skills we've been talking about in your personal life, wounds and salt and how life brings those things. You're married with two children, your son Alex has Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

LM : Yeah.

AD : That has to be so incredibly difficult, for all of you, especially Alex. How have the things that you teach and train and advise others to do shown up as you parent and manage your family?

Navigating Life and a Son's Untreatable Illness: Lousin's Experience in Negotiation [25:37]

LM : Well, I can truly say that I became a better negotiator after the diagnosis because I realized that I had to negotiate every single day for Alex. So, Duchenne muscular dystrophy is something that we found out five, six years ago when Alex was diagnosed. It's a disease I had never heard of before. It's basically a muscular dystrophy breaking down the muscles of the patients, and we have more than 600 muscles in our bodies. Everything we do, we do with muscles, talking, swallowing, coughing, kissing, everything. So that slowly breaks down. It's the most severe muscular dystrophy in children. It's the number one genetic killer. It's just a horrible disease for which there's no cure yet. Life expectancy is short. In average, we're talking now 25, 26 years old. and basically when Duchenne attacks the heart and starts eating the heart up, there's not much you can do and you have very short lifespan.

Now, when you think you have a healthy child, and all of a sudden the doctor tells you that this is happening, and he's going to stop walking and stop breathing and stop living, unless a medical miracle happens, obviously the world as you know it, is just finished. Like you're grieving the life you thought you were going to have. You're Grieving the fact that you thought you were going to play football with your kid and you know, go on hiking tours, all that is finished overnight. And then you're like, “oh my God, how am I going to deal with this?” So there, yeah, there's a lot that went through my mind. and after the first levels of grief, we decided to move from one country to another.

That's when we came to the UAE and I had to negotiate access to a school for him. Inclusion, I'm still negotiating very often with the medical doctors, with insurances, [laugh] with all types of stuff. Like my day-to-day life has become a negotiation with other parties. That's one. And then I have to negotiations with him, you know, can you take this drug again that is making you sick? Can you please drink this disgusting thing that I heard might help you?

AD : Right.

LM : And all this stuff, which obviously the answers always no to. So those are negotiations happening daily. And then there is all the important negotiations that I have with myself. When I have to make a difficult decision between am I going to give him this treatment with all the horrible side effects that is going to make him more sick on other stuff, or am I not going to do it? And then maybe he's going to live shorter. Am I going to put him in this clinical trial, which they're doing this drug experiment that might give him more years or might kill him? Those are all types of decisions that I have to make.

And then the inner negotiations of how am I going to live with those decisions? Because it's two horrible decisions. Like, you can't be right ever. Whatever you do, you're going to regret the other one, and yet you have to live with yourself and you have to forgive yourself. So it's a constant negotiation. And that's when I realized it's not about the negotiation techniques, like how is empathy going to help me negotiate, you know, if I'm going to put him in a clinical trial or not?

So, that's when you realize all the soft skills, fantastic, all the hard skills, fantastic. What really matters is how you become a better negotiator, how you incarnate all those things, and how you work on yourself to be able to make the right decisions with the information that you have and be able to live with yourself.

If you made the wrong one, forgive yourself if you messed up again. And at the same time, keep the joy of life of actually being a joyful, strong mother for him, because that's what he sees and feels. So, there's this balance of, well balance. I hate that word. Like, does that even exist? This mix, let's say, of constant, constant negotiations. You with you, you with your kid, you with the medical world, you with the world. And that's when you understand it's not about the ticks, the tricks, the tactics. It's about incarnating it. It's about becoming it, breathing it. You do it automatically, constantly because you have to do it over and over and over again.

And having the humility to know that you will never, never be excellent. Like you are always growing. You can become better and better and better. Others might call you excellent, but you're never done learning. There's always a part of you that you can still heal to become less triggered. There's always a part of you that you can still develop to become better and better. And there are days where you're going to say, enough learning today, I just want to do nothing.

And that's okay too, that doesn't make you lazy, or whatever. So there's this inner negotiation constantly happening, and I think the strongest people on earth are the ones that have strong in our negotiations, that know how to talk to themselves, that apply the most important skills in negotiation, which is how to remain calm, how to listen with empathy, how to have the curiosity to understand what's really going on, the listening skills, the capacity to really be there for another and allow space for them to grow.

If you can apply that to yourself. I think that's how you can really grow and face anything in life really. And I would add something that I think is one of the most difficult things when I'm dealing with Duchenne, is and this might sound very harsh to some, but it's this sense of detachment, the detachment of the negotiation that you can't win.

Like, I am fighting as hard as I can to make him live as long as possible, while accepting that I'm not going to be the one deciding how long he will live, while accepting that he might die next month. And that is extremely difficult. But if you are able to enter a negotiation with a sense of detachment of saying, “I am only responsible for how I show up”, “I am only responsible for the way I'm handling this negotiation”, and “there is absolutely nothing I can do about what other people say or do that will determine the outcome”, then you know that the only person you can focus on is you. And by being so focused on you, that is how you can influence. You see what I mean? So it might be contradictory to, I said, forget about yourself so that you can listen to the other. But if you want to be a good listener, you have to be focused on you by how you are listening. I hope this makes sense.

AD : Lousin, that was a very powerful response, courageous and vulnerable. I know that our listeners with anything they're struggling with are going to greatly appreciate it. Please know that we will be keeping you and your family, and especially Alex in our thoughts and prayers, as you continue to negotiate this complex situation. So thanks for tackling that for us.

LM : Thank you.

AD : As we get ready to wrap up, can you tell us a little bit about what's ahead for you for the next year? What do you have in the works? What are you looking forward to?

Future Plans [33:23]

LM : Oh, in the last, what is it, like nine months, I've been working on this very exciting project that I haven't shared with anybody yet. But this whole, aspect of negotiations with yourself, peace negotiations with yourself, I'm pouring it all into a training so that I can share this with the world and people can start having better relationships with themselves, because I think that is the baseline in how you show up in life and the quality of your life is these inner negotiations. The way you talk to yourself, the relationship you have with yourself.

So, I'm working on a course for that. And also the motherhood journey and everything that I've learned, by becoming a mother and dealing with this devastating disease is something that I'm going to be sharing in a movie. A movie/ documentary.

AD : Wow.

LM : Yep. That will be coming out this year. I'm very, very excited about that. Like a real proper Hollywood movie that is actually going to be very beautiful. We've been working very hard on that. And not only me, other people as well, sharing their story. It's basically going to be about inspiring people, to inspire people. and I'm very fascinated because I've been working with very competent, and impressive, and inspirational, and influential people. And I can't wait to share this with the world. I can't say much about it yet, but I will. I will share it on my LinkedIn. That's where I mainly communicate with my community.

AD : Wonderful. Well, we'll make sure as we get ready to launch this podcast that we highlight the movie, as well as the new, peacekeeping or peace negotiations with yourself work that you'll be doing. Before I kick it back over to Nolan, let me just say thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today, for sharing your insights. I've got too many notes here to go back and try to highlight one or two things. So I probably won't even try to do that. I love, let me just, maybe the one thing I'll say is that you defined a negotiation, this noble decision to move from disagreement to agreement. Something I haven't heard before. I love that framing. So, I'll just kind of highlight that but there's so much that I hope folks will go back and take notes. Lousin, thanks for being with us.

LM : You are welcome. Thank you. Thank you to both of you. It was a pleasure talking to you. Thank you for asking meaningful questions. And I loved it that we went a bit deeper in this podcast than the standard, you know, give us a few tricks on how to negotiate better. I think it's really important for people to realize we are all negotiators, whether we realize it or not. We all negotiate every day.

And it's so worth learning about how to become a better negotiator so that you can show up in life and be able, have the skills to speak up for what you believe is important to you, and have the skills to go in and say, “I don't agree with this”. When somebody's overstepping your boundaries and respecting other people's lives as well, you know, not feeling entitled to anything. And at the same time, defend what it is that you believe in so that you can show up in life. And no matter what happens, no matter what somebody says or does, you know, you have the skills to stand up for yourself, to speak up for yourself and for your family and make sure that you and your values are respected.

NM : Absolutely. And thank you so much. That's, what a beautiful wrap up. 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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