I recently came across an article by Damien Holliday called "10 golden rules of negotiating; learn how to improve your negotiation skills." The article was interesting, but I'm a pretty easy audience because this is a skill set that always impresses me. Every time I read about negotiating, the art of leaning things in your favor, I can't help but think about the concepts in a combative context. It's the fighter in me, I think about verbal de-escalation skills and how, in its very essence, self defense is a negotiation for your well being. Every fight is a hostile negotiation and sometimes the two parties are punching rather than talking. To prove that the principles are transferable, I will list the 10 rules as they were originally posted and translate them into a language that martial artists, fighters and operatives can appreciate.
1. Knowledge is Power
Originally intended to describe the importance of knowing your market and gathering information for a potential investment, knowledge is crucial when fighting as well. Training is gathering knowledge and practicing its application. When we fight, we have to evaluate the entire situation as well. The more information we can put together, the better our chances of survival. Is my attacker alone? Is he/she showing any habitual weakness or mistake? Are there any objects that they or I can use as a weapon? These are just a few of hundreds of details that can change the course of events in under a second.
2. Use Time to Your Advantage
In a real estate market, for example, time can play a huge factor in your negotiations. Often times, manipulating a deadline can do most of the work for you. This is also true in fighting, but that can be used both ways. If you find yourself in a self defense scenario, you need to establish control as fast as possible. The longer the fight lasts, the more damage you are likely to take. In a sport fighting context, this can result in injuries and a loss of brain cells. In a street fight, this can result in permanent injury or even death. You can even die of a knife wounds several minutes after winning in a self defense scenario! Time is a factor. Use it to drive your sense of urgency to solve the violent situation as fast as possible.
Possible exceptions of stalling for time are if someone's called the police and you want to wait for them to arrive or if you have friends that are coming to help. Otherwise, the faster the better.
3. Don’t just focus on price as terms and conditions can be equally as important.
Always make sure that nothing is traded without you receiving something in return.
Be prepared to walk away! As soon as you must have something it will end up costing you far too much.
Always base your judgments on sound property fundamentals and not your emotions. Whenever a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.
This will make sense to anyone who's ever shopped for groceries on an empty stomach or bet on their favorite team. Emotions get in the way and could your judgement. When we're fighting, we have to keep an objective mind. Don't make it personal. Even though someone is trying their best to physically harm you, getting mad about it won't help you solve the problem faster. Keep an emotional detachment and always try to think objectively. Also, don't rule out the ability of an experienced fighter trying to "bait" you out. This is when someone makes a mistake on purpose, making your next move predictable and then they capitalize on your response. If it seems too easy, it is. Fight smart, not excited.
7. Throughout the negotiation process base your negotiation strategy on principles and not positions. Allow yourself flexibility and avoid locking yourself into positions and ultimatums.
8. Aim to be a firm, but reasonable negotiator
If negotiations become heated for whatever reason, always focus on the problems and not the people. Whenever you make an emotional outburst, you tend to give up some control.
Business rivals always run the risk of letting personal feelings affect their judgement. The same can be said for fighting. In sport and in reality, fighting will always feel personal, but reacting out of an emotional response will reduce your cognitive mind to its most primitive state. This is exactly what your opponent would want. This will accomplish two things: remove your most dangerous weapon which is your brain and allow them to control how you think and feel. You should dictate the terms. Stay focused on that and impose your will.
10. Always be consistent during a negotiation.
Stand your ground, both in business and in fighting! My professional advice is to do whatever you can to avoid a fight. However, once that line is crossed and you feel threatened, commit to the escalation as well. When the time comes to act, decide to see it through until its end. You don't decide that part though. You keep acting however your judgement deems appropriate until you feel safe again. Be consistent in your actions. Release any doubts, fears and signs of self pity when you hit that switch.
Fight or Die