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EP 1678 No matter what kind of interaction you are involved with, respecting your opponent will help you obtain more of what you want and help you be better prepared.

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One of the things I learned a long time ago . . . There is this is saying in sports—“the 6 P’s-- Proper preparation prevents piss poor performance. Most people are disrespectful to their rivals. They don't prepare.

It is kind of like when I was in school and I didn't know prep before taking a test. I had not been paying attention in class. I'm now taking a test and, once in a while, I would get lucky. But most the time, it was crash and burn.

When you go into negotiation, when you go into an interview, when you go into a business meeting, how well-prepared are you really? Are you thinking that I can just pull this out of my derrière and perform like I always have or do you take some time understanding what the needs of your adversary are?. I am going to use the old-fashion terms because there has been a propaganda that's been created over the years about win-win negotiations.

Win-win basically means you lose because it tends to be you make more of the concessions than they do. So, if you are in a power position, that is,. You are representing an organization and entering into negotiation, well, you have an advantage. You’ve got the power. You've got the money.

If you’re the vendor, if you are the job hunter you don't have as much power. You can refuse service, obviously, but what you're really there for is getting the money from them, right? The money that you want. In order to be effective, you need to be prepared. You need to recognize the cues them time and again signal them trying to talk you down.

So, the classic examples in job hunting where they’re asking you how much you are looking for and they are invariably saying are you willing to be flexible? And your response is, “I am willing to be flexible,” but you don't follow it up by saying, “but I'm not willing to concede flexibility right now without knowing more. So I'm about 1/4 of the way into my search, it is relatively early, the market may dictate that I shouldn't be flexible, so don't make the assumption that I'm going to be making huge concessions here for a job that I know very little about right now.”

And by not putting it back on them, you are not showing the respect that is necessary. You are not prepared to have a rebuttal and, thus, you made an immediate concession without getting anything back.

I want to be clear, this is not about hardball. You have to know where your limits are and you have to know what you're willing to concede going into the conversations so that, if you're shooting high, what are you going to come back to you. If you tell them what you our really willing to take, why are you coming down immediately? Seriously, why negotiate immediately?

You are not respecting your opponent. You're conceding to them and are expecting them to be respectful of you. They won't be, right?

So, part of what you need to do is to be prepared every step along the way. So, that's interview preparation and understanding what it is they are really looking for and how they're going to evaluate for it.. That is not just simply in the interview. That's going to be your projected performance once you're on board, right?

When you get further along and you are with senior management, how do you connect with them? What sort of relationship can you build with them in order to gain that respect and show your own respect for them, too.

Lastly, when you get into a negotiation, how well-prepared are you? Have you spent any time practicing the negotiation with someone? So, take the time to do your work and, I’m going to get you the negotiation now, practice your endgame, particularly if you're a job hunter. .

Most of you spend so much time fixated on your resume, so much time fixated on the 1st interview and no time practicing negotiation. I had seen this time and time again with job hunters. You do nothing to practice how to negotiate. You arrive at that point relieved. “I'm going to get an offer,” and then your 1st reaction when it is made and it's a little bit low is to become indignant! NO! You are just not prepared to negotiate at that point. You have an emotional response because you have not really thought it through. Even though they been signaling certain things to you over the course of your interviews, that you chose to ignore while conceding things and then get shocked when they actually from the concessions.

Again, respect your opponent. Recognize what their objectives are in interviewing you, in meeting with you (if you are a vendor) and in talking with you. What do they want to get out of it and. How can you fulfill that and demonstrate that in the course of your meetings?

So, when they get to the negotiation phase, I don’t want to say it is anti-climatic, but you have made it clear that you're not going to be a pushover AND that you want to join or sell to them (remember we are talking that job hunters and vendors here) because, at the end of the day, if you want to join, you want to get a fair price for your talent or you can go somewhere else, right? If they think they can get you low, that tends to be your mistake because you signaled it all the way through.


JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter
JeffAltman, The Big Game Hunter

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1600 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice.” He is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council. “No BS JobSearch Advice Radio” was recently named a Top 10 podcast for job search. was also recently named a Top 10 YouTube channel for job search.

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