Meditation - Mind Over Matter

Meditation: Mindful Negotiations

Mindful Negotiations

Is the glass half empty or half full?

It is a simple question. So is the answer. It all depends on your perspective. The answer you provide is a deep insight into who you are and how you view the world around you.

In effect, you are what you think. The glass is just a glass. It is a reflection of you. It is not the glass that is half empty or half full, it is you, it is also the person sitting across from you.

You see, you do not live in a binary world of full or empty, “1s” and “0s”, hot or cold, win or lose. There are any number of ways to find an outcome in which everyone benefits. To find that outcome means being able to step away from the table and not allowing your ego get involved. It means taking a mindful approach to your negotiations so you can see beyond the glass being half empty or full, but seeing that you can always refill the glass.

In the end, no matter where you are in a negotiation, you can always change your mind. That does not make you a “flip/flopper”, it makes you a smart person who is able to change the way you view the situation as it changes before you.

Picture yourself coming to an open field 40,000 years ago. You are hungry and afraid. Imagine seeing a branch rustle across the field. It could be a rabbit, and you could have dinner. It could also be a wolf, and you could be dinner. Do you rush toward the rustling branch [half full] or run away from it [half empty]? The first is riskier but potentially feeds your family. The second is safer, and you stay alive to see one more day.

More than likely you would approach the rustling branch slowly, constantly reviewing the situation with every baby step you take. It is called being cautiously optimistic – ready to leap forward at the opportunity for dinner, but prepared to also run away as fast as possible to avoid being dinner.

This is called being mindful of the world around you. It changes every second, and you should be aware of those changes; not blindly optimistic, not openly pessimistic, but finding balance in those two until a choice can be made. And yes, not choosing is still a choice; you are simply placing the decision, and your future, into the hands of nature or someone else, which is rarely a good decision if you are to live your life on your terms and in your way.

Just remember the closer you are to a situation the more your ego will cloud your perspective. Your primordial brain will think of your survival as the #1 objective. It will think that it is better to live another day than it is to catch that rabbit. Your heart will cloud your decision with optimism of what “could be”.

That win or lose scenario was fine 40,000 years ago. It assumed that somebody won and somebody lost. Then something strange happened. People found that it does not have to be that way.  In fact, when you deal with the same people over and over again, sometimes it is better to lose a little in order to gain a lot. A smart person could create a win/win solution by negotiating.

When you look at it, the question itself – half empty or half full – is itself misleading. It implies there is a winner and a loser. It implies the only answers available are a 1 or a 0. In reality the answer could just as well be a 0.5 and a 0.5, or a 0.4 and a 0.6. You can negotiate it in any number of ways so everybody walks away happy. Perhaps not everybody get everything they wanted, but they can leave with their ego intact and, most important, happy

Instead of half full or half empty, think about refilling the glass. Look for a positive outcome in which everyone wins.

In every situation, social or professional, reprogram your auto-response to step back, take a breath, pause and look beyond the original question. Seek alternative solutions that stem from a positive place and, like walking across that open field, take baby steps forward. Assess the facts of the situation before you. Be aware that your brain will cloud your judgment with its desire to win. Be willing to walk away at any minute, but also look for a creative solution that creates a win/win outcome for everyone.

Task yourself with this in every situation you come across. Many people from the traditional world of business think they not only need to come away from a meeting a “winner”, but there needs to be a loser for their ego to remain intact.

It is an incredible feeling to realize how much you can control your attitude by shifting your perspective from a winner take all approach, to a win/win approach. You will be surprised at the clarity and even-headedness you can create with a cautiously optimistic outlook.

Training yourself to be cautiously optimistic is easier than you may think. Your normal response is to follow every question in a linear fashion. To stay on topic and to not question the person asking. That process was drummed into your head from your parents, your teachers, even your bosses. It makes them happy to be on top.

They get upset with someone who asks questions, or follow a new line of thinking. They would use that term “off topic” as a way to bring the discussion back to their idea.

Here’s a secret, you do not have to share all of your thoughts with those around you. The difference between your inside voice and your outside voice is that one allows you to think through an alternate path before you share it with others.

The beauty of the skull is that what happens in your skull stays in your skull. Sharing their opinions at the wrong time landed Galileo into the hands of the Inquisition and Einstein a job at the post office. Keeping their thoughts to themselves until the right time landed Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg into powerful positions from which they changed the world.

The next time somebody asks a question, rather than jumping forward be the first to answer first, sit back and take a breath. Ask yourself what is behind your question? Is it truly you asking or is it your ego? Next, what is behind the other person’s interests? What is their logic, or is it their ego being swung around? Could the answer lay somewhere between both of your ideas? In reality the answer to the “half empty/half full” is both – as you can always refill the glass.

Before you go into a meeting to try this way of thinking out, take a moment by yourself. Close your eyes and meditate on a pending issue you have. With every breath in, mull over the question before you. Turn it around and view it from every angle. Literally hold it in your hands and turn it back and forth, up and down.

See if anything new comes out of it.

Next, try that same tactic with a friend during a conversation:

  1. Be fully aware to what is being said.
  2. Before responding, think through the question, and carefully gather your thoughts.
  3. Do not worry about the time or the length of your pauses. When you respond, do so with a well-thought out answer that may or may not be in line with the question – if it is not, simply be prepared to provide an explanation for your response free from emotion.
  4. Fully listen to the person across from you, without getting personally caught up in what is being said.
  5. At the end of the interaction ask yourself:
    1. Were you fully present and listening?
    2. Did you aim for a win/win outcome?
    3. Were you personally invested at all times?
    4. How would you have handled it differently?

Please feel free to email me directly by CLICKING HERE, I am curious to know how this worked for you.


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