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The Power of Understanding

Increasing Negotiation and Leadership Performance through the Power of Understanding


Laws of Power 48: Design a Plan to Win

By Karen S. Walch

Historic classic power approaches have tended to focus on material things: “guns, butter, men, money, oil …” Classic negotiation strategic rules are designed to be secretive and intimidating to pressure, maneuver and lead a counterpart into submission. The goal has been to win: control resources and outcomes to guarantee one’s own security. This week’s Law will conclude the Laws of Power series with a focus on how to design a plan to win in the 21st century.

Success and security have taken on a whole new meaning as global and economic uncertainties and social justice have become fundamental components in the world economy. The Laws of Power outline the design of an alternative system of rules that work more effectively than the classic power tomes of the past.

It is true that in negotiations where outcomes may not require positive professional or personal relationships, “ruthless, selfish, manipulative, deceitful ways” may continue to serve as rules to live by. However, in situations where social, political and economic problems are the result of complex relationships, the power of understanding, “soft” power, and integrative negotiation rules have come to be the tools of choice.

The Laws of Power have outlined what these rules are and how they can produce more successful, prosperous and satisfying agreements.

The Laws’ design principles outline ways to be more energy efficient and how to manage the time and stress of negotiation preparation. Laws 1 – 14 outline an effective and coherent preparation method in order to know what you need and how to accomplish your goals. An alignment and coherence of the physical, social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions have a positive impact on increasing clarity, stamina, power and leverage as a negotiator.

Laws 15 – 20 explore the psychological, strategic, and social implications of self-interest for the practice of effective integrative and problem solving negotiation.

Operational tactics and sources of leverage are addressed in Laws 21-33, along with exercises and further reading to develop and encourage practice and tactical mastery. In these Laws, powerlessness and negative negotiation practices are transformed through awareness, practice and feedback. These are critical rules to explore since ineffective classic power approaches continue to prevail in negotiation.

Laws 34 -43 assist negotiators with the design of a strategy, which addresses both one’s needs and rights’ protection in a negotiation. These Laws are especially critical when negotiating with classic, hardball counterparts.

Laws 44 – 48 conclude with a focus on why and how to design an integrative negotiation architecture that addresses the full spectrum of emotional, social, mental and political implications of negotiation. Skills of mindfulness, compassion, appreciation and tolerance of others not only can create value for others, but can also positively impact your own immune system, economic and mental health and security.

A design plan with a focus on internal self-management and alignment is important since this can generate energy for fundamental physical performance and quality brain function required in negotiation (Laws 2 – 8). A negotiator’s design plan to include self-management and coherence of emotional and strategic planning is one of the most critical steps in today’s multicultural world.

The “noise,” dissonance, turmoil, pressure, conflict, and misperceptions found in many negotiations today require more than a linear, analytic plan. A negotiation plan today must be designed to be flexible, practical and inclusive of diverse viewpoints and situations. Analytic knowledge or linear planning is necessary, but not sufficient.

The Laws have outlined ways in which mindfulness and disengagement from automatic classic power mental models or emotional reactions can increase negotiation power and leverage today. Distorted perceptions and high levels of emotional anxiety decrease efficiency, cooperation and productivity for even the best problem solving negotiation plan.

A plan to guide coherence and alignment of both the ‘mind’ and the ‘heart’ assists negotiators to create more vitality and unique and practical results (see examples in Laws 18-43). Time is saved when negotiators can disengage from inefficient mental or emotional reactions while adopting more effective cooperation behaviors.

Not only do these practices increase power and success for negotiation, they also reduce stress, lead to better health, and impact meaningful personal growth. These skills are required not only for negotiators, but also for anyone who lives in a fast paced and complex world, in general.

This kind of design plan generates negotiation innovators. Curiosity and engagement of opposing and diverse points of view lead to what designers call ‘breakthrough’ thinking. When negotiators can create a culture of collaboration and inclusion, they are able to encourage others, seek support from others, and lead an effective analytic and problem solving process in order to create practical new solutions.

Skills of mindfulness, self-awareness, feedback, self-disclosure, problem identification, listening, and empathy are critical components to innovation, creativity and power for the 21st century.

During this last year, we have dismantled much of the negative mythology that surrounds negotiation power in our vocabulary. You can continue to increase your power and leverage by reviewing any or all of the Laws. Continue to practice the concrete steps and look at the suggested readings. I am grateful for all of the feedback, stories, and questions about the Laws of Power.

There are many more questions to ask, stories to share, and creative ways to apply the Laws!

I look forward to continued participation in this emerging learning and practice community. We will all continue to inspire, provide insight and become involved in supporting others who create value in their personal and professional negotiation and mediation.

Power, more than ever, is unleashed when talented negotiators create value where none existed before!

Law 48 Exercises

1.Take time every day to focus on the sources of power and leverage you possess.

2.Spend time connecting with positive and uplifting people who support human potential.

3.Seek out the counsel of others when you need to develop options and solutions to powerless situations.

4.Remember to prepare for power on the physical, social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level.

<img src=”http://knowledgenetwork.thunderbird.edu/worldcafe/files/2009/09/powerwor…” alt=”powerwords” width=”103″ height=”43″ align=”left” /><strong>48 Laws for 21st Century Global Negotiators: </strong>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. <a href=”http://knowledgenetwork.thunderbird.edu/worldcafe/power/” target=”_self”>Go to the main menu for the series</a>.

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