He was waiting in the back of the room after I gave a speech. I noticed him out of the corner of my eye, a young man who obviously wanted to ask me something. If you’ve spoken to large groups, you’re used to this. Someone who has a question but didn’t get called on during the Q&A or who only wants to raise a question privately.
When I turned to him, he shifted to the other foot, his nervousness seemingly evaporating with the movement. He confidently asked a question that I have heard in various forms over the years. “Skip, you’ve been the CEO of some large companies. What do I need to do to get promoted at work?”
It’s a simple question and the answer could be extensive. There’s so much to learn about leadership that it’s almost a paralyzing question.
Fortunately, it wasn’t new to me and so I had a ready answer.
“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” -Jim Rohn
There really are three skills that I think help you stand out at work. When these three skills are mastered, it isn’t always apparent why the person is promoted. It just seems natural.
In other words, sales skills. Many people think of sales in the wrong way. They think of it as manipulation or “pushing something.” The greatest sales people, persuaders, and influencers are not pushing a false narrative or unethically exploiting others. They are great listeners, look for ways to help solve problems, and are genuinely interested in others.
Influence is a complex skill worthy of filling volumes of books. It is not only based on what you do, but on who you are. Helping others become influential is one of the major goals of this website. It’s my hope that regular readers will see their persuasion and influence grow over time.
“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.” -Ken Blanchard
In other words, public speaking. It may be in small groups or in large ones, but those who overcome the fear of speaking – and become good at it – are significantly more likely to see promotions than those who don’t.
Your book title starts with the word authentic. That’s not usually a descriptor of negotiating styles. I’d love to know more about your approach and this uniqueness.
My teachings, based on over 30 years of day-in and day-out professional business negotiating, are mainly focused on the personal and deep internal work you need to do to become a great negotiator: Clarity, Detachment and Equilibrium (or CDE). A lot of negotiating training is on the level of techniques, tactics and counter-tactics. Some of those are very manipulative, lack integrity, and are ultimately ineffective – so they should never be used. Some are okay, but they are not at the core of true negotiating success. At best, they are good to know as additional tools beyond the deeper and more important work of authentic negotiating. Without Clarity, Detachment and Equilibrium, tactics and counter-tactics will be of marginal impact at best.
Authentic negotiators get total clarity on what will work and won’t work for them on every significant term and what their true bottom line is – from a place of clarity, not ego. They then stay detached from the outcome. They have no hesitation to walk away from a negotiation – not from a place of anger or ego but, instead, from a place of clarity with no upset, judgement or hard feelings. Finally, they maintain their equilibrium throughout the negotiating process and don’t let their emotions throw them off so that they are able to stay present to and maintain their clarity and detachment. Although, of course, leverage matters, in over 30 years of professional negotiating, I found that the most impactful common controllable elements are those three things – not the negotiating tactics and counter-tactics that many of us have been taught.
I’ve actually created a quiz where people can learn if they are an authentic negotiator, which can be found at CoreyKupfer.com.
“Authentic negotiators determine their true bottom line from a place of clarity, not ego.” –Corey Kupfer
What are some of the most common errors people make negotiating?
The top six reasons negotiations fail are:
Lack of preparation – external preparation and, the often overlooked, internal preparation which requires doing the deep inner work to get clear on your objectives and determine your true bottom line on every material deal point.
Ego – including avoiding the pitfalls of pride, wanting to be liked, wanting to win and talking too much.
Fear – including fear of losing, failure, success, the unknown and looking bad or letting someone down.
Rigidity – including pre-conceived notions and the danger of inflexibility.
Getting emotional/losing objectivity – which can kill a deal because you fall in love with a bad deal or it can push you in the wrong direction.
Lack of integrity – with others and, less talked about but as important, with yourself.
Here are some additional specific reasons that fall under the various larger categories above:
Talking too much which is most often triggered by either ego or fear.
Thinking of negotiation as a game.
Being focused on winning instead of achieving objectives.
Letting emotions get in the way of your clarity, detachment or equilibrium.
Not getting connected to a powerful context.
Not knowing your purpose for the negotiation.
Not determining the measurable results you want to achieve.
Not holding high expectations.
Having unreasonable expectations.
Not understanding the natural negotiating rhythm and moving either too fast or slow.
Not being aware and prepared for cultural differences.
“Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” – Sir David Frost
Do skilled negotiators often exploit these errors? If they know the issue is “getting emotional/losing objectivity” do they deliberately work to have one side off balance in this way?
Absolutely! Manipulative negotiators are going to look to take advantage of every weakness they see in you and use it to their advantage. They will leverage that emotional imbalance the most they can even though it would be shortsighted to do so, especially in one of the many negotiations that results in an ongoing relationship. Authentic negotiators will use these errors to their benefit as well, though. There is a way to do that which is authentic and not manipulative. It is the difference between paying attention to the information and leveraging opportunities that emotion reveals to help attain your objectives vs. actively manipulating people’s emotions. For example, if somebody is the type of person who emotionally needs to feel like they have won a negotiation, I will design my negotiating strategy with that in mind. As long as I achieve my objectives, I am happy to have them feel like they have won. The difference in the authentic approach is that my focus is achieving my objectives, not using their need to win to take advantage of them and manipulate that need to get as much as I can at the expense of the ongoing relationship or getting a reputation as a negotiator who takes advantage of others.
In recent research only 11 percent of people said that they have a great deal of energy. If you want to rev up your engine, read on.
One of my very favorite authors, Tom Rath has a brand new book called Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life. Tom is a researcher at Gallup who studies human behavior. You may know him from any of his five New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers. From How Full Is Your Bucket? to StrengthsFinder 2.0 every one of his books inspires and challenges. We recently discussed what it takes to be fully charged at work and in life.
“The pursuit of meaning, not happiness, is what makes life worthwhile.” –Tom Rath
You open the book with your own personal health challenge. How do you maintain such a positive attitude and strong work ethic in the face of the unknown?
I have learned it essential to focus on what you can do today that will continue to grow when you are gone. In reality, no one can say with certainty that they will live for a defined period of time. But we all have today to do something that improves the life of another human being.
You don’t even have to do anything that profound today to make a difference for someone else. The things that change people’s lives are usually an accumulation of small acts. If I have one great conversation today, do a little research or writing that contributes to something larger, or read a book to my son, those all add up in the way I think about a day where I am fully charged.
“The things that change people’s lives are usually an accumulation of small acts.” –Tom Rath
Three keys to a Full Charge include meaning, interactions, and energy. Are You Fully Charged?offers practical, easy steps to energize your life and become more effective. At the same time, I don’t think most of us think of our lives in these buckets. How did you develop this approach?
While I have also worked on research and books about life in a more general sense, this one focuses more on the key ingredients of a great day, for yourself and others. So I think of these three elements as little reminders of things I need to try and spend time on within a given day. As I talk about in the book’s prologue, this work has been deeply influenced by recent research suggesting that our daily experience functions very differently from our overall satisfaction with life over decades.
“Doing for others may be the only way to create lasting well-being.” –Tom Rath
You say to “make work a purpose, not just a place.” What practical steps can company leaders take to make that a reality?
I think it starts by going all the way back to the fundamental compact between a person and an organization. Companies are now pretty good at quantifying the value an employee adds to their bottom line, but very few do a good job of ensuring that each person’s life is better off as a result of joining the organization.
So leaders need to spend more time helping employees to see how their daily efforts are part of something much larger that makes a difference. One way to do this is to help employees hear directly from customers and communities who are benefiting from their daily work. What matters is not just that we make a little meaningful progress each day but that each person also has a chance to see and perceive this through their own lens.
“Make work a purpose, not just a place.” –Tom Rath