COVID has changed how we work with our colleagues. You are no longer negotiating for the corner office. You aren’t having the water cooler discussions. There have been some socially distant work gatherings, but they are not the norm. We are losing a lot of information that you natural solicit in those water cooler or casual conversations. Award-winning negotiator, Donna Hughes, founder of Launch Negotiation helps us understand more about how to use emotional intelligence in our new normal in part three of our four-part series on negotiation.
Emotional Intelligence and Negotiation
According to Hughes, the biggest tool that you have in any negotiation regardless of it’s a huge corporate negotiation, or with your partner is emotional intelligence. It’s not just about recognizing your own feelings and emotions, but also those of the other person. Everyone is more on edge now. Taking the time to understand how another person feels is more important now than ever before.
Doing Things Differently
COVID means doing things differently. That includes thinking about what is on the table during simple and more complex negotiations. For example, a huge component of a lot negotiations now, especially since most people are still working from home, is not having to just stick to the standard meeting slot because that’s how you have always done it. Just because you always met on Monday at 8am doesn’t mean that you have to stick to that. If that’s not going to be conducive for most members of the team, because they are working parents, it doesn’t have to be that arbitrary.
By having that conversation, and understanding that you have a meeting full of parents who may be getting their kids ready to go to school, whether it’s physically dropping them off or getting them started for the day online, we are now in a position to work around employees timelines. By having those open conversations it becomes about really tapping into that emotional intelligence.
The best way that you can do that is to remind yourself to be curious and instead of assuming that your situation is the same for other people, actually take the time to think things through. Put yourself in their shoes, even if you don’t have the same lifestyle or mindset. Take time to understand some of the challenges that they face during COVID. It means that you can build relationships again very organically like you would if you were at the watercooler just by having these very natural conversations.
Have Those Conversations and Observe
When we have these conversations, you will get so much information just by observing, even though you can only see your colleagues from the waist up. We can now see what is going on in the background of their lives. You see if they are getting interrupted. You can see if they are stressed and if their guard is let down. Hughes says:
“I’m finding on these calls, where previously people had only let others see them suited and booted, now you are seeing them in a casual t-shirt and there is a bit more personality coming through.”
There are now opportunities to ask questions based on the observations that you see on the video call and you can get to know the person and ask questions that are more vulnerable than we typically would ask in a work environment. It is more appropriate in a one-to-one meeting in this new chapter because you don’t have anyone else eavesdropping on those conversations.