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Like it or not, you are a negotiator

The importance of soft skills during real-life negotiations

On the 2nd of March, Jo Janssens taught us about the importance of soft skills during negotiations. He is a renowned speaker and has 15 years of experience in change-management. His background in psychology allows him to analyze the conversation from a meta-perspective. Here is a brief overview of his lecture.

Janssens has a lot of experience in high-pressure negotiations, making it very inspiring to hear about his views and know-how. As he provided us with many different real-life situations, it was interesting to discover all the different possible outcomes. We learned how to handle and manage these situations.

Secondly, it was useful to see the implementation of the negotiation theory we learned at LCM SA into the real-life. To illustrate this, he provided us with interactive exercises. In one of them, two LCM-members needed to come forward to test the effects of psychological tactics, which can be used to influence your opponents. The first volunteer kept his arm outstretched, while the speaker tried to push it down. The intention of the member was to keep the arm in the air for as long as possible. In the first case, he was encouraged by the other member. In the second case, he was taunted. The difference was clear as daylight, as the support gave him much more strength. This might be a simple example, yet it shows that even in a professional context you can be very creative with methods to destabilize your opponent.

This directly ties in with the core idea of the lecture: the theory on negotiating tactics is necessary to know how to handle the conversation, which options there are to create value and eventually reach a win-win-situation. It is a basis for the real-life, complex situations where it is essential to be creative, emphatic, but most importantly to manage the moment.

Managing the moment is an eye-opening approach to the process. Janssens showed how you can stay in the driver’s seat during the conversation. Being in control of where the conversation is going is a very powerful tool. It allows you to steer the topics in an order which safeguards your interests. Often, these negotiations are not sprints, but marathons. They take multiple days or even weeks. Thus, outsmarting and dominating the other party for the entire duration might prove though. Preparation and out-structuring the other party are subtle tricks that make a world of difference.

Another point raised by Janssens was how the principle-agent relation is not only a tension, it can be a tool as well. By letting the agent discuss the “bad news”, the principle is less directly involved in the dispute. This makes it possible to keep a good relationship even after a tough negotiation. In any case, the trust will need to be regained to some extent, yet this can ease that work.

Overall, the lecture by Jo Janssens was inspiring and taught us many valuable lessons. Even after the end, our members kept asking questions as they were hungry for more. We are happy to have welcomed him and hope to keep in touch.