Regardless of your ministry call, business venture, or career path, every experience you face is to prepare you to manifest your purpose and make a difference in the world for the glory of God. It is so important that you learn how to nurture collaborative relationships with everyone put on your path and this will increasingly become natural to you the more your grow in the confidence of God’s design for your life. In the confidence of God’s design for your life, meaning a clear focus on who God is, who you are in Him, and His promises for you, then you can engage people effectively; you can serve others, and even negotiate to get things done.
Polished negotiation skills are essential to every strong leader and successful entrepreneur. Negotiation skills are also vital in our personal lives and in our witness for Christ. Whether we’re asking our spouse to take out the trash or requesting an extension on an overdue light bill, aiming for the best possible outcome for everyone concerned should be our goal.
Here are some essentials that I think are especially important to bring to the negotiating table that engage both your head and your heart…
- Negotiate in love.
The foundation for approaching negotiations is found in Mark 12:30-31- where Jesus answers one of the religious leaders trying to test him saying which of the commandments are greater… Jesus replies: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Loving God will create an overflow of love to pour out to people. In negotiations, you show love by prioritizing principles of fairness and mutual benefit, and holding a win/win mentality, all the while striving to preserve the relationship. From this posture of love (God and others), this ensures a successful negotiation outcome. Even if you don’t make a deal, even if you have to cut your losses and walk away, do so in a way that the relationship is preserved.
- Cultivate an environment of trust
Credibility (authority), reliability (dependable) and integrity (honest) are the building blocks of trust. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’ll do it. Be flawless in the small things as proof that people can put faith in your word on the bigger things. Don’t do this as some covert manipulation technique, but do it because it aligns with your personal ethics.
Once trust is broken, it’s very risky to negotiate with a person. You must be careful not to position yourself to lose, i.e. lose your peace, your joy, your money, your reputation, etc. While you should mitigate your risk by limiting business dealings with people you cannot trust, always strive to preserve the relationship by showing love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reminds us that love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” I don’t have to trust you, but I can love you.
- Stay patient and positive
Effective negotiators persuade others with their positive, “can do” attitudes that persist even during difficult conversations. Bring your most flexible and personable self to the interaction. Be willing to spend the time required to get to know the other person and craft a solid relationship based in authenticity.
An “I don’t got time for that” attitude will kill a business deal, stifle your business or ministry, and limit relationships. If you have no choice but to see this person again, it’s wise to stay positive and end negotiations on a positive note. Patience is truly a virtue – it’s super-natural. To foster a positive spirit requires you to feed your spirit positive things. Make a commitment to disconnect from negativity.
- Be a great communicator
Clearly articulate your desired outcome in a negotiation, and then stop speaking and practice active listening. James 1:19 says everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.
Observe not only what the other party is saying, but be alert to body language and subtle intuitional clues. Use your gift of discernment. Use silence strategically. Resist the urge to fill the pauses with unnecessary chatter that dilutes your points and derails the conversation. Look for common areas of compromise by doing more listening than speaking.
- Control your emotions
Disagreements are very common when we try to negotiate anything, but it’s crucial to remain respectful and calm. Make finding common ground with the other person more important than getting them to understand your perspective. Wouldn’t it be nice if could simply get people to understand our perspective, to agree with our point of view, to accept and believe that our way is best? The truth is one’s belief is not often based on fact. People believe what they want to believe for many reasons, but most times it’s based on how they feel about a thing rather than the facts of the matter. In negotiations, if emotions run high and a breakdown in communication occurs, this is the immediate problem that needs to be solved. The ultimate negotiation goal takes a back seat until everyone is on solid footing again.
- Learn from every negotiation
Walk away from each experience, no matter how challenging, taking away insights to apply the next time you’re faced with a similar situation. Keep an open mind, don’t personalize the perceived “losses,” but do internalize what you learn. People who are willing to challenge your ideas or perspectives do you a great favor by holding up a mirror that reflects areas in which you can grow. James 1:2-4, says to count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect (mature) and complete (whole), lacking nothing. Put what you learn about yourself into action, and go into your next negotiation with even more skill and Christ-centered confidence.