You need similar workplace skills maneuvering your way diplomatically through the political spectrum of today's organizations, which often means having the ability to negotiate through emotions.
Managing tensions during the normal ebb and flow of exploring and vetting creative, entrepreneurial ideas, and then deciding which ones receive funding can surface different emotions in people ranging from feelings of rejection to one of favoritism, and even how someone views their value in the workplace.
If you're not skilled in the art of political diplomacy, or collaborating with someone who is, your entrepreneurial ideas may get squashed before ever seeing the light of day. Sadly, it's not always about the best ideas put forward, but often the best ideas put forward by the most politically savvy within the corporate arena.
Negotiating Win-Win Emotions
Negotiating the emotional terrain is different from delivering a difficult message. The former assumes an interest in meeting mutual needs--a two-way discussion that fosters relationship building even if the message is difficult to deliver and receive. The latter focuses on the message itself and less on its impact--one-way delivery that can burn bridges or at least singe them a bit.
The art of leadership diplomacy comes in different flavors. Leadership becomes diluted when it relies only on a title for its power, without the accompanying skills for influencing others to consider different ideas and persuading them to take your recommended actions.
At one point, I was invited to observe a client during a staff meeting and provide later feedback during our coaching call. She was unaware that her aggressive behavior and desire for fast results were contributing to her staff's feeling of powerlessness. The unfortunate consequence was a management team who needed her help in making the most mundane decision. This senior manager had become overwhelmed in the process and requested coaching on creating a more self-reliant staff.
Diplomacy means taking a 360 view of the emotional landscape before negotiating:
- How am I feeling emotionally?
- Do I feel balanced and in charge of negotiating my needs?
- Do I harbor any "hidden agendas" that need to be surfaced?
- Are there other issues that need to be addressed before "getting down to business"?
- How can I deliver a tough message to a diverse audience as diplomatically as possible?
By taking into consideration a sweeping view of the emotional landscape, this senior manager shifted to the role of leading others to change.
Negotiating Your Needs
Giving voice to your needs when the person delivering the message is your manager or someone who you perceive as having more power in the relationship is not always comfortable. Negotiating up doesn't have to be emotionally scarring though!
Sometimes silence is the best way to handle an emotionally charged situation when you're being criticized and your ability to rein in your defensiveness is weak. In this case, listening with an open mind and an open heart can help you hear the underlying truth of the issue or, in some cases, understand the political motives of the message.
In certain situations, however, silence can be misconstrued as weakness or an inability to negotiate your own needs. Establishing healthy boundaries is generally regarded as the first step in "discovering your voice".
So, the next time you're feeling powerless in a situation I'd like you to move beyond deep breathing and counting to ten (although this pause is a great way to ensure you don't "emotionally snap" at someone). If the situation warrants speaking up versus remaining silent, give yourself a power boost and create a more level playing field at the same time.
If you've ever worked with a business or life coach, you've noticed that we explore situations that help you gain clarity by asking questions, sometimes probing and other times "lasering". You can do something similar when you find yourself at a loss for words.
- What I'm hearing you say...crisply recap the key points that you've heard
- I'm sensing some underlying issues that I'd like to explore with you...surface hidden agenda or political motives
- If I understand correctly you want these changes to happen by...re-negotiate the timetable if not realistic for you
- Could you please provide one or two examples of what success would look like for you...negotiate expectations
- What actions in addition to X, Y, or Z could I do to help you solve your biggest challenges...element of surprise that increases your value
Interested in up-leveling your negotiating skills? Check out teleseminar series and downloadable audio offerings.
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