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The Power of Understanding

Increasing Negotiation and Leadership Performance through the Power of Understanding


Laws of Power 2: Choose a Power Performance Presence

By Karen S. Walch, Ph.D.

One of the classic keys to power is to have a strong presence that will draw more power and attention to you. Once that certain level of power is attained, then you must learn the couturiers’ game of “hide-and-seek.” Negotiation energy and tactics involve strategic, time-consuming maneuvers to be absent and “starve others of your presence.” This is all part of your Machiavellian artifice necessary to portray a powerful presence.

This week, I encourage you to assess and develop your own power presence. However, I need to point out that many successful global negotiators I work with today choose not to play the hide-and-seek game, and have changed the basic rules about how to develop a strong presence as a negotiator.

For the majority of negotiators I interview and work with, as well as my own experience, we are all required today to do more with less. We often do not have the time or capacity to learn the “tricky games” of negotiation. It is essential that we take on new challenges, learn to adapt and become more efficient in our social interactions. For negotiators, this scarcity condition can create a sense of powerlessness, frustration and even despair! Therefore, physical and emotional burnout can result from these realities and becomes a critical issue for many negotiators. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are many examples of successful power performers in this environment despite the odds against it. The key I have noticed is that a conscious choice is made to develop habits of a sustainable performer. This is much like the way athletes develop and train for sports performance. Some of the methods they develop are an optimistic mindset, physical stewardship, energy recovery and nutrition as part of negotiation preparation.

Even for those who have felt a lack of emotional and physical energy and are debilitated by lethal cynicism, apathy and irritability, the choice to establish habits of high performance can change a negotiator’s outlook and presence. If you or someone you know may be in constant pain and distress in social interactions, medical care and attention may be necessary in this case before a sustainable performance presence can be enhanced.

Depleted emotions and physical strength can impair the mindfulness skills and discipline of sustainable negotiation performance. Even last week’s exercise to calculate your levels of power can be depressed by a lack of quality brain performance. Negotiation requires the resilience and stamina to work through others in order to accomplish what we need. It takes physical and emotional energy as we are challenged to style switch and influence others in complex cultural and economic settings.

As you review your power calculation from last week, think of ways to reframe your habits of under or overestimation of your leverage in a current negotiation. However, before you re-evaluate those assumptions about your own power and presence as a negotiator, I suggest you visit Tignum, The Institute for Sustainable High Performance. And read the 2009 book, Sink, Float or Swim, by Tignum founders Scott Peltin and Jogi Rippel.

Many of the tips from Tignum can be applied into our busy lives and can increase clarity, performance and presence. When our brains are fatigued and lack oxygen and hydration, we are often too impatient or unable to foster the energy of presence. Here are a few exercises from the Tignum approach to sustainable high performance which can increase your presence as a negotiator.

Performance Mindset Exercise

Performance mindset is positively focusing on and developing your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and vision to improve cognitive and creative aptitude and produce sustainable success.

1. What are three action steps you can take right now to improve your assessment about your power?

2. What is the anchor you will use to remind you of your high power performance mindset?

3. How can you implement mindset strategies to increase your energy and resilience for negotiation?

Performance Nutrition Exercise

Performance nutrition is purposefully choosing food (while not sacrificing the pleasure) to improve your energy, resilience, brain performance and capacity in order to develop focus and clarity and produce sustainable success.

1. What are three action steps you can take right now to improve your high performance nutrition?

2. How will you use high performance nutrition strategies to positively impact your negotiation and travel requirements?

3. How will you use nutrition strategies to increase your energy, resilience and brain performance for negotiation?

Performance Movement Exercise

Performance movement is utilizing physical motion to reduce pain, generate energy, increase resilience, improve brain performance, maximize capacity and produce sustainable success.

1. What are three action steps you can take right now to improve your physical movement after long hours of sedentary habits of negotiation preparation and analysis?

2. How will you use high performance movement strategies to positively impact your demanding must- win negotiations?

3. How will you use movement strategies to increase your energy and resilience, brain performance for negotiation?

Performance Recovery Exercise

Performance recovery is purposefully resting and regenerating to develop your energy, resilience, brain performance, and capacity to enhance your passion and purpose and produce sustainable success.

1. What are three action steps you can take right now to improve your recovery after a high performance negotiation or preparation efforts?

2. How will you know when you need a recovery break from a negotiation?

3. How will you use recovery and rejuvenation strategies to help you increase your energy, resilience and brain performance for a sustainable high performance negotiation?

48 Laws for 21st Century Global Negotiators: Join Thunderbird Professor Karen S. Walch, Ph.D., as she explores the laws of power for 21st century global negotiators. Each Monday she discusses one law and provides an exercise to identify and enhance individual negotiation power. Go to the main menu for the series.

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