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What Happens When You Negotiate with the Wrong Person

Before you open any negotiation, you need to ask yourself if you are talking to the right person / right team. Sometimes negotiations will get down to the wire and the other party will say something along the lines of: “Oh, I need to escalate to get final approval.” To be fair, it is one thing to know from the outset that the negotiation execise was a preliminary activity, but it is another to be caught by surprise by the news that it’s not over.

Proactive negotiators do their homework. They spend time assessing their needs and wants, speculating on the potential needs and wants of the other party, and mapping the negotiation zone–that is, the area of possible agreement. However, negotiators won’t get far if they are not talking to someone who can sign an agreement.

The drawbacks to negotiating with the wrong person are:

1. You waste time & energy. If the negotiation ends up being an exercise in futility, you have lost time you will not be able to get back. It is important to know as early as possible in the process what the parameters of the negotiation are–including who has the final sign-off.

2. You show your cards. If you discuss too much with the “wrong person” what your ultimate intentions are, you may reveal too much about your position and what you’re willing to accept. The “wrong person” likely has a relationship with the “right person” and may share information that might put you in a position of having to concede key points.

3. You tarnish your credibility. If you unwittingly spend a great deal of time and resources on courting the “wrong person,” you may appear to to be inexperienced or naive.If you unwittingly spend a great deal of time and resources on courting the “wrong person,” you may appear to to be inexperienced or naive.

4. You may inadvertently disclose confidential information. Negotiations can tread on areas that in normal circumstances you or your employer might prefer to keep under wraps. If this is a concern, you may have to negotiate the parameters of the discussion.

5. You risk making an enemy. Lastly, you may unknowingly alienate the “right person”–that is, the one who has the authority to make a decision by giving someone else your time and attention. However, how the “right person” views the matter is dependent on the context, past practice, and their relationship with the “wrong person.” You want to be careful not to give the impression that you disregard the position or authority of the “right person.”

It’s not always easy to know you are dealing with the “right person” when organizations have varying structures and policies. There are few core questions to help you determine if you communicating with the right person.

  1. Do they know the issues? Are they familiar with the context of the negotiations? Can they reasonably discuss all aspects of the deal with you?
  2. Do they have the power to sign an agreement? As noted above, sometimes the negotiated agreement is a football that has to be kicked to the next level for approval–and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but all parties need to know the score at the outset. Know who has the power to sign-off on the agreement.
  3. Can they deliver on an agreement? Does this person / team have the organizational know-how to deliver on the agreement within the specified time frame?

When you are sure you are dealing with the “right person”–your negotiation is off to a great start.


Do You Read Weak Signals? Sometimes It’s Not a Scream; It’s a Whisper

We live in a world of signals. There are innumerable bits of information that float around us every day. We see and hear things that are relayed via media—the internet, television, books, magazines, trade journals and even radio. We pick up snatches of conversation in the check-out line or on the street or in the hallway. We receive emails and scan message boards. Some information that enters our orbit has more immediate value, and some information may not be relevant now, but may have important implications in the future. This type of information is indicative of a weak signal—that something is happening. Entrepreneurs take the time to speculate and engage in deeper analysis of that “something” before deciding to act (or not).

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By CGP Grey (VLA 4893505508) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsBy CGP Grey (VLA 4893505508) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


New article: When Ego Destroys Your Vision

The voice, passion, and power of the new leader are essential when trying to initiate a new direction and new purpose. In fact, at the vision stage, ego is a necessity. Much of the legitimacy of initial ideas stems from belief that others have in the leader. Visionary leaders who focus only on themselves inadvertently stymie the transformation of their vision into reality. They become demoralizing tyrants, marginalizing those who could be key to their success.

The challenge for a visionary leader is to avoid the classical mistakes that emerge when focusing only on themselves:

Read the rest here.


Six Things to Keep in Mind When Dealing with Narcissists

We are all familiar with narcissists. If indeed of late this has gotten much play in the political arena, it is a phenomenon not unique to it. Narcissism, at least in its most subtle form, can emerge among those who are so confident in their vision and capacity that celebration of self may replace or subvert their originally intended agenda. At that point, they begin to view the world from their own unique perspective. Everything is filtered through the lens of self-aggrandizement and their insecurity.

Those who work with and around the narcissist–those who believe in the underlying agenda but are wary of the self-focused intent of the leader–are challenged with dealing with the narcissist on a regular basis. Specifically, surviving a narcissistic leader demands pragmatic political skills and continuous focus. There are at least six things that you should keep in mind:

1. Keep your eye on the agenda. Keep asking yourself what you’d like to accomplish. What are the specific concerns that drive you? What are the intentions you’re pursing? Don’t let the whims of the leader lead to you drop the ball. If the collective has a goal that you continue to believe in, then it is easier not to be affected or taken off course by a needless side path.

2. Bide your time. Don’t overreact and jump on every comment and every point. Every action doesn’t deserve an equal counter-reaction. Sometimes a reaction can be nothing. There are some things that you can let pass. As your mother might have told you, “Pick your battles.” With a narcissist, everything isn’t a battle unless you make it one.

3. Be deliberate with feedback. Don’t hesitate to give feedback when necessary, but make it specific and concrete. You have to tow the line. But, at the same time, you cannot engage in half-truths and petty obfuscations. You aren’t doing yourself or the narcissist any favors if you sugarcoat the truth.

4. Have a red line. Understand at which point the agenda is completely undermined to the point where you can no longer support it. Even if you are so committed to the cause, something the narcissist says or does is too out-there, too outrageous that you cannot keep up even the most tight-lipped support. Know when it is time to cut bait, and do it swiftly when the time comes.

5. Be careful not to feed the flame. Don’t over ingratiate yourself with the leader. Some narcissists feed on the adulation and kowtowing of others. If your narcissist is like this, pull back. Don’t give him or her positive reinforcement for acting in a way that is frankly not acceptable.

6. Seek support from others. Sometimes there is strength in numbers, but be careful who you confide in. What you view as a getting something off your chest, others may view as ammunition that they will use to fire back in your direction. So, seek support, but be aware that others may not share your motives and intentions.

In the final analysis, it may be the case that you cannot survive the narcissistic leader because you find that your core values are being violated. At a certain point, the narcissist may so overwhelm you that you have no choice but to move on.



How To Counter Criticism Of Your Million Dollar Idea

The best entrepreneurs and business professionals learn to anticipate these push-backs before they happen, and respond calmly and effectively. I like the specifics on how to do this in a new book, “The Agenda Mover: When Your Good Idea Is Not Enough,” by leadership expert Samuel B. Bacharach, Cornell Professor and cofounder of the Bacharach Leadership Group.Bacharach details seven possible criticisms that every leader with a good idea should anticipate, and provides guidance on how to overcome each.


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