Interview with Lousin Mehrabi
Many statisticians and data scientists see themselves as introverts. Does this imply, that we are therefore bad negotiators?
What are the limitations and strength of introverts in negotiations?
What does listening really mean and why is it important for negotiations?
How do to handle different emotions during negotiations or emotional hijack?
It is important to be an effective negotiator as negotiation is all around us all the time. Whether it’s about daily life or making decisions at work as statisticians. But at as experts in this field (and being mostly introverts), we need several skills to develop and grow our negotiation skills.
Today, I talk with Lousin Mehrabi who was selected by the Schranner Negotiation Institute as one of the ‘Most Influential Negotiation Professionals Globally’! Join us while we talk about the following points:
- How did Lousin started her career
- Strengths of introverted people in negotiations
- Listening as a major important skill to develop
- Handling different emotions while in negotiation
- Getting great intel
Listen to this episode and share this with your friends and colleagues!
Selected as one of the ‘Most Influential Negotiation Professionals Globally’ Lousin Mehrabi is an International Speaker, Trainer and Advisor in Negotiations and Emotional Intelligence.
She works with CEOs and decision makers worldwide to help them get the best out of themselves, their teams and their performance.
Lousin began her career in Finance in 2001, on the high pressure trading floors of investment banks.
As a country head she was responsible for defining the Strategy and led high stakes negotiations with Stock Exchanges and regulators. Be it contract negotiations, Mergers & Acquisitions or IPOs.
Passionate about negotiations she enrolled in a year-long Masterclass in Complex Negotiations by some of the world’s best (hostage) negotiators.
In 2014 she qualified as a Certified Professional Negotiator, CPN© by the International Scientific Experts Committee of Negotiators.
In 2016 she left her job at the Stock Exchange to share her expertise for a greater good.
She is an international sought-after Speaker and the Global Head of Negotiation Training for ADN Group.
Lousin is a mother of 2, a graduate of 3 International Business Schools, holds 4 nationalities and speaks 5 languages.
As mother of a son with special needs (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy), Lousin is also an advocate for awareness, inclusion and empowerment.
She is currently based in Dubai and works with corporations worldwide. She is also the discreet Special Advisor to 3 CEOs.
To have Lousin speak for your teams or podcast, feel free to send a DM.
Alexander: Welcome to another episode of The Effective Statistician. And today, I’m really excited to have Lousin Mehrabi here on the podcast and she’s a negotiation expert, which is really, really awesome. And it’s really important because negotiation is all around us all the time, you know, whether we discuss where we spent the weekend with our family or whether it’s about convincing others to act on our ideas for example to make decisions more on data and to apply a new study design and things like these. Let’s start with your introduction. Why have you started to become a professional negotiator?
Lousin: Very good question. Thank you, Alexander. It’s a pleasure to be with you. So I’m a professional negotiator now and I actually started my career in finance. I’ve been working on trading floors of investment banks for almost 15 years, on and off in Europe, in Rotterdam, in Paris. And while I was working at the Paris Stock Exchange, we had a very generous HR who invested a lot in training and they brought in two professional negotiators to select us. They selected a small group of potential, talented, whatever they called it to be trained by these two gentlemen, and for a year long, from September till June, we were blessed to be trained by these two professional negotiators. So one of them was from a hostage background, the other one from a commercial background and together, they now tour the world and train people in the United Nations and companies and their special forces in how to negotiate efficiently without the use of violence. So I was blessed to be trained by them for a year that was in 2013. And one day, while I was looking at one of the trainer’s, his name is Marwan Mery. I was like, I want to do what you do. This is really, really cool. So, he planted a seed of interest in that moment, and then fast forward a few years, I joined them. I became a professional negotiator. Now, I tour the world and I provide these trainings to executives mainly, but I also negotiate on behalf of companies when there is an important negotiation and they don’t want to negotiate themselves, or I train the teams or I go in and advise them from the background where I’m completely invisible and nobody knows that I’m advising that company.
Alexander: Yes. This background is really really, incredibly interesting. I read the book Never Split the Difference, that you also recommended on LinkedIn and has these amazing hostage stories in it. It really helped me to look at negotiations very, very differently because yeah, with this Never Split the Difference, well, if you have someone that takes hostages, you can’t say, will kill five and give me five. And so it’s a really, really interesting area. Most of my listeners are pretty introverted. What do you think would be the limitations or strength of more introverted people in negotiations?
Lousin: Well, that’s an interesting question, because most of the people think that, in order to be a good negotiator, we need to be extroverted. We need to be loud. We need to be so sure. We need to be outgoing etc. Etc. And I’m here to tell you that that’s not true. Actually, in order to be a good negotiator, we need several skills that I believe are easier to develop and grow for introverts. And also most I mean, I’m an introvert myself. Most of the professional negotiators, some of the world’s best negotiators that I work with, are introverts. So I want to kill this idea immediately that in order to be a good negotiator, you need to be extroverted. That’s not the case. You can be both extroverted and introverted then be excellent negotiators. As long as you have the skills, both the soft skills and hard skills that are needed. And one of those skills is, of course, listening. Listening is so crucial and I believe introverted people tend to focus more, concentrate more, observe more before they speak. Also, think more about what they’re going to say before they actually say it and that is a super strength to have on a negotiation table. So extroverted people might seem more social Etc. And also we need to first define what introversion is, right? I’m referring to the official first person I ever came up with who is called Jung. And he says that introversion has nothing to do with being shy or social or those kinds of things. It has everything to do with energy, the way you spend your energy and the way you regain your energy after interaction. So we have the extroverted. And again, it’s not extroverted people. Its people with the tendency or a preference for extraversion. Okay. I mean, I’m also very detail-oriented and I want to get things right. So people with the tendency of extraversion to be very precise, they tend to recharge their energy through interaction, through being with other people. So, these types of people like, for example, going to drink after work, chit chat after work, meet up with several people at the same time, whereas introverts, they tend to recharge alone after a long time through calm and quiet. So these people need more space to think things through. So you can be both and still be a good negotiator. But being an introvert definitely definitely has its advantages. As I said about the observation about the listening about also observing not only what is being said, but how it’s being said the entire body language part and also taking the time taking the time before you answer taking the time before you commit all those things are super important. It’s easier to come back to something and say, you know, let me think about this and get back to you, then commit to something and then having to pull that back that’s really bad for your reputation and people within the preference for extraversion tend to sometimes commit too fast or talk too fast or say something. And I said, oh no, that’s not what I meant. Yeah, but that is what you said. So yeah, it can definitely be an advantage if you’re an introvert.
Alexander: So let’s double click a little bit on this listening skill. When you say listening. Well, you know, I just listened to you at the moment but what does it mean for you listening?
Lousin: That’s an excellent question. Listening means so much more than hearing. There’s a massive difference. Hearing is when you hear what’s happening. Listening is when you try to truly understand what the other person is saying, the feeling you are going through, has value about Etc. So I say, you listen in 5D. What is being said? How is it being said? What is actually being said? What is being meant? What is being said in between the lines? What is not being said, but actually conveyed, all those things are an aspect of listening and most people and I think I’m not exaggerating when I say more than 95%, don’t know how to truly listen. Truly listen, in order to understand somebody, in order to feel their values. What is Important to them, what are their non-negotiables? As I say to my, to the executives I train, we’re living in a world where it’s being seen as something positive to be loud, and to be all over the place and to go for what you want and success and win Etc. And we still tend to have this win lose mentality when we are in negotiations, but I say, you know, try to be different then try to dare to care when you truly care about your counterpart, about the person you’re negotiating with. So, I’m not talking about the title this person has, the company they’re representing. But that person, that human being that you’re talking to, if you truly care and you have the curiosity to go beyond what they’re saying. And to really try to understand who this person is? What is important to them? What do they value? You create a bond that goes way beyond just being liked or just getting the deal done or just booking a success? You’re establishing rapport, you’re building rapport and relationships that can serve you in that negotiation and all the other negotiations that might follow. And you might say, well, it’s not important. I’m never going to see this person again. Why burn bridges? You never know if you’re going to see that person again. That person is going to talk that, you know, you might have to deal with them in another setting years later. You just never know. So every time you have an opportunity to care about people, do it.
Alexander: Yeah. I completely agree and our world is so small nowadays. Yeah, you never know. Maybe you meet someone else that is a close friend to talk to, you know, you move company and the other person moves company as well.
Lousin: And it’s not even about that person. It’s also for you to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say I was a good person today, you know, I was kind, I was respectful. I was ethical, and you stay true to your own values. And I always wonder, you know, those people who really play very tough or bad or going to even you but how can you look at yourself in the mirror, you know and be proud of yourself. How does that work?
Alexander: Yeah, and there’s always these opportunities and things that backfire later. Yeah. I heard of a negotiation where a big car company was dealing with small companies that were providing deliverables for them and they were so mean in all the negotiation and exploited the small company by any means and then the small company found one hole in the negotiation. Where they said they didn’t specify some kind of interface on the IT side and based on that, they said, well you haven’t delivered here and this is not clear so we can’t deliver you anything and that stops the whole Manufacturing process of the bigger company because it needed to come out of this deal. And I think if you’re mean if you kind of don’t care about the other side, you just want to exploit it. That will backfire. And I also completely agree with you. I couldn’t look into my mirror. If you think about listening, What do you see as the main obstacles to being a good listener?
Lousin: A lot. And people are often not aware of this when they’re listening. I think that one of the main things that are there is that people are too focused on themselves to focus on Why am I here? What do I want? What do I want from this person? What is my goal with this conversation? Me me, me me me. So then they don’t listen to truly understand the other person. They simply listen to get their needs met, which means they’re missing most of what’s actually being said. Another thing is that they’re simply not trained, you know, we think listening is just like breathing, you can just do it, but breathing actually also needs training, you know, we assume we know how to do it, but most people don’t. So if you’ve never taken the time to learn about listening, say what is listening really like the questions that you are asking now? If you don’t have that curiosity and you’ve never been trained, you can go on till the end of your life and never know how to listen properly. So yeah being focused on themselves not knowing how to listen, not knowing what listening actually is those are two obstacles and then there are many others and it depends also on the setting, you know, sometimes the place you are the sound, everything that can be disturbing the stress you have in your everyday life, the lack of time. All those things can prevent you from truly listening because you might think that, oh, I really need to take the time to listen etcetera, but that’s not the case. Listening can really become something like breathing. If you train it properly, you can simply listen all the time, acknowledge, and this again, the majority of people can’t do this. If you do this, it makes a massive change in your life and all the relationships that you have been with your partner, with your manager, with your children, with everybody. Listening is a game changer immediately. It’s also the fastest way of booking success. So, you know, when I let my team go, I just said just go and listen, go and listen and see how life changes.
Alexander: Yeah. Can you give one trick that helps to be a big better listener?
Lousin: Yeah, of course, there are many. There are many different ones. The ones that I say about dare to care. The number one thing you can do now, is, for example, the next conversation that you have doesn’t matter with who you say, you know, what, I want to listen to this is not about me. You just put yourself out of the conversation for a second. So when they’re talking instead of using, oh, but this is what happened to me or this is what I would do. Try to be quiet when you need to answer about you and simply be there for them and whatever they say, try to encourage them to speak further, you know, things that we naturally do such as mmmm, and then tell me more, so encourage them to speak more. That’s number one. Number two, repeat back what you think you understood. Just to validate what you understood. So things like, oh that’s interesting. It seems to me like that da da ah, and then you repeat if you understood properly or did I understand well what I’m hearing is.. and then you repeat back in your own words what you think you understood. This alone will one validate what you understood and if it’s wrong, give the other person the possibility to correct you. So in both ways, whether you’re right or wrong, you will learn more. The other person will feel more understood, will open up more and share more and then obviously you win there again. It’s a true game changer and it’s like swimming, you know, I can tell you about swimming from the side of the pool for hours until you jump in the water and you actually do it. You won’t truly understand what I mean. So next conversation you have pull yourself out of the conversation, make it about them. Give them the time, the space, the trust to open up and repeat back to them. What you think you understand and encourage them to speak more, make this about them and you’ll see how that works and don’t be surprised if you get things like, oh, I love this conversation, you know. No, people won’t even know that you’re doing it but they will appreciate it.
Alexander: Yeah, completely. See that point. I remember a discussion I had with a very very senior statisticians early in my career and he was asking all kinds of questions and really digging deeper into what I was doing and it felt amazing. And I felt so appreciated by this very, very senior person and that built a really, really strong connection. Absolutely. Why is listening so important for negotiations? What do you get out of listening that you can use for negotiations?
Lousin: Well, the number one thing, what you just said is you build better relationships. So people then, you know, you build rapport, you establish a safe place where people can open up. So you will actually gain more Intel, you will learn more about what’s really important. The number one mistake people make in negotiation, is they negotiate on the position. Meaning, what is being said I come to you. I say, I want to buy this product for 10 euros and you start negotiating on the 10 without asking questions and listening to, why do I want the product? Do I really want a product? Do I really have a budget of 10 or more or less? Why am I saying 10? All those things?
So you negotiate on the position, what is being said? And, and to go back to your hostage example, that you gave. Okay. I took 10 people hostage and you’re going to negotiate on that. 10, but it’s not the 10 that matters. What matters is what is my need? And in order for you to understand my need? Why do I say that I, you know, want to run some, or I want to pay 10. Unless you understand my need, you can’t satisfy the need and then you can’t have a successful negotiation. As you said. If you say, oh, you know what, I can only offer you, the money you’re asking for five hostages, kill the other five, Keep them, do whatever you want, you know, put them in human trafficking and you will earn some more money and give me the other five because this is the budget that I have at the end. Obviously, that’s not a successful negotiation, right? That’s a disaster. So you want a successful negotiation and successful negotiation is for both parties to walk away thinking what they achieved was fair and that they can only achieve if their needs have been met. So not the position, not what they say they want, not what they think they can obtain, but what they need and a need in a negotiation is a non-negotiable, is a value, is a breakaway point is something that has often an emotional as long as you’re interested, of course, but listen in a way that makes people feel heard, understood, truly listened to, load to it. So if you want to be really like an expert negotiator, you don’t negotiate on what people say they want. It doesn’t matter what they say they want. What matters is what do they need? And you can’t get there unless, you know how to listen.
Alexander: You mentioned the word intel. What do you mean by that?
Lousin: Well, with Intel, I mean, before you go into a negotiation, you need to properly prepare, right? Preparation is key. Preparation is more than 70% of a negotiation is preparation and in the preparation phase, you try to gain Intel about Intel – meaning information intelligence about who you are negotiating with. What is important to them? The company, the product, all those things, you do all your homework, your market research to understand what is happening. What is the entire negotiation cosmos that I’m going to put myself in, and in that face, you try to gain Intel and then when you go and meet somebody, the first thing you do is build rapport. And in that period, you can gain Intel at the same time. Let me give you an example. For example, if I asked you Alexander, tell me one of the fantastic neighbors that you have, or you’ve had and tell me about that person. Why was he such a great neighbor to you? What would you say like a real question?
Alexander: I have a really great neighbor. He’s a very, very good friend of our family. We go on vacations together. The kids are similar age, and they play well together, and it’s fun too. Yeah, we can chat.
Lousin: Okay, wonderful. Now you’re saying that this neighbor has actually become a friend that you share your holidays with. What is it about this neighbor that you appreciate?
Alexander: He is trust-worthy. He is open. He also tells me what I need to hear and not what I want to hear. And we are just on the same wavelength.
Lousin: Okay. So what happens here, you are telling me about this neighbor. So while I’m asking this question, you tell me about your neighbor that you think is trustworthy. He’s open. He tells you what you need to hear, not only what you want to hear, and you’re on the same wavelength, right? Yeah. Now if Think about it, these things that you just mentioned don’t only give me information about your neighbor but give me information about what you Alexander values. You value trustworthy people, open people Etc. So you just gave me until about you.
Alexander: Yeah. Yeah, Right.
Lousin: And by me opening up with that kind of question and you thinking it’s an innocent question because we’re just talking about your neighbor. I gain Intel about what matters to you. So then I know as a negotiator when I’m negotiating with you. I need to position myself as open and trustworthy as telling you what you need to hear. Not what you want to hear.
Alexander: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s great. Yep. Yeah, very good. In just listening, you know, maybe it’s a chit chat before a meeting or something like this. Well, later in the meeting, you discuss some really important things. You can learn quite a lot about the person about, you know.
Lousin: Totally, if you just start using this as a reflex, so, you know, you’re meeting somebody for the first time instead of talking about the weather, you ask them a question. So, how have you been working for this company? Do you like working for this company? Why? da da da da that either they’re going to give you information about themselves.
Alexander: Yeah. Yeah, that’s one of the recommendations I always give to my listeners. Yeah. Have lunch with people that you deal with. Because over lunch, people are pretty relaxed. You can understand a lot about the needs or frustrations, what, you know, keeps them up at night. And that gives you background in terms of what’s really at stake. What they really need.
Lousin: Exactly if you ask the questions and you truly listen.
Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, my audience is pretty much about logic and facts all the time. How does it help and how does it potentially also harm in negotiations?
Lousin: Well, I used to be extremely logical, right? Once I was working on the trading floors. It was just my Excel sheets, all over the place. I had seven screens, three phones and it was data, data data. We had Bloomberg, we had Reuters. We have all this data coming in, from all the sides and there’s no emotion in that, right. It’s purely data, information, facts, that you can actually put in an Excel sheet. And that’s how I worked for years and years. Now that of course shaped my head to think very logically and I still think very logically when you have to make decisions, etc. In negotiation, we can often perceive things in a certain way. So I often have companies coming to me and obviously when they reach out to me, that means the negotiation is tough, ss difficult already didn’t succeed in the past. Otherwise, you know, they wouldn’t reach out to me and they come and say, okay, we can’t win this negotiation because and that’s when we sit down and say, listen, this is your perception at the moment. And before me believing, that’s just because you tell me. So we’re going to analyze It logically to see if that’s really true. So we’re going to go through the data, not emotions, not the perceptions, the data of.. okay, what is the situation? And we try to be as rational as possible, like, truly objective. What is the situation? Same goes for the balance of power when they are like now we can do this because they’re much stronger. I don’t believe that at all. I want to, I want to have the data. So we’re going to make a list of all the things that are important in that negotiation and truly give points. Okay. Is this in our favor or in their favor? Very simple in Excel. So that allows you to keep the emotions out. Keep the perceptions out, keep the, I don’t like him because he’s aggressive out, you know, and go through the data that is super important. And that is why people who are data driven and think in a very logical way have an advantage in this preparation phase.
Now. Once you’ve done that and you go on the negotiation table, on the negotiation table, you don’t know what will happen. Even with the best preparation you don’t know what will happen. You don’t know what they will say. You don’t know the mood they will be in, you just don’t know. So with the preparation that you have, you need to be as agile as possible. Agile, meaning you can adapt to whatever is happening there, including the things that you weren’t prepared for because it’s impossible to prepare for everything and that is when agility and resilience comes in and you can’t do that if you stick to the facts non-stop, there’s going to be emotions. There’s going to be anger. There’s going to be yelling. I mean, there’s going to be insults. I’ve even had somebody throw something at my head once.
Alexander: Oh, God.
Lousin: Yeah, those things happen, you know, especially if it’s a crisis negotiation or something, where the stakes are very high. People are not rational beings and it’s a big mistake to believe that that’s the case. That’s not the case. We all have emotions whether we want it or not. So that’s when emotional intelligence comes in. And I have learned this only recently, like, in the last seven years or something, where I really studied emotional intelligence of saying, okay. I’m super rational, super objective. I’m super fact-based. But in certain situations, facts alone can’t get you to success. There’s something else and that’s when I studied emotional intelligence and all that what’s happening through physiologically. So again in a rational way. Like what happens in your brain. What is the physiological response of your body, where are emotions toward? How does that work? Which emotions exist? What can we do with it? And how can we become strong? And I think, if you combine both the strong, facts base. As long as you’re interested, of course, but listen in a way that makes people feel heard, understood, truly listened to, thinking brain and a strong knowledge on emotional intelligence and how you can recognize your nigger emotions, how you can recognize emotions of others, how you can stabilize emotions of others, you know, when somebody comes all angry and they stopped putting their fists on the table. How can you remain calm and react to that?
All those things give you then the best of both worlds, right? Of knowing. Okay. This is how you’re going to very rationally prepare. And this is how you’re going to be very agile and react to all the situations that can come your way in the best way while staying calm respectful, ethical and true to your values.
Alexander: Yeah. So it’s, when emotions always come in. Yeah, you need to deal with your own emotions to keep them under control and be able to manage the emotions in a way. If someone comes in and just angry at you. Yeah, because maybe you didn’t deliver what they think was quality. Yeah, and now you need to negotiate about, you know, improving it or whatsoever. And that person is coming in and he’s really angry and frustrated. How do you deal with that?
Lousin: That is a good question. So, I just want to show you that what you did right here is exactly what I said to do in order to be a better listener. So you didn’t jump into your question. You first repeated what I said, were you aware of it? Yes. So you first repeated what I said showing me that you actually listened and then you ask your question. So that is exactly what I want you to do and your listeners to do. And that is a true game changer. And then your question is, how do you deal with angry people? First of all, we need to realize that emotions any emotion are there to help us emotions are not the enemy emotions, are not something that we’re trying to push away. Emotions are not something that you want to control and put under the table. Emotions are something that you want to embrace and make it part of you. They are your allies that’s giving you information. So the information that comes with anger is somebody steps beyond your boundaries. That is what makes you angry. Now, if somebody on a negotiation table is angry at me, which happens all the time. The number one thing is to stabilize their emotions. You never negotiate with somebody who’s going through a massive emotion. Why? Because in that moment, they are connected to a part of their brain, which is called the limbic, which is the emotional, you know, where the emotions are stored or it’s not simple. Obviously, a neuroscience is listening to this will understand what I mean, but you can’t feel an emotion and think logically at the same time.
Alexander: And you’re in Amygdala Hijack.
Lousin: Yeah, exactly. Neurologically impossible. Okay, so you don’t negotiate with people in that moment. And people still do this all the time, if you want an example, go to a playground where you have kids, watch somebody fall and cry and then see how their parents tell them. It’s going to be. Okay. Oh, don’t cry or da da da and then they come up with all these rules and da da da that the kid is not hearing you. They’re going through pain, through sadness. So, let them go through it first. And another important information is, Alexander, do you know how long physiologically, So let’s say something happens, your body physiologically reacts with an emotion doesn’t matter which one fear, anger, sadness. How long do you think physiologically it stays in your body? If we just let it be.
Alexander: I think surely something like 15 minutes, 30 minutes.
Lousin: We think it’s super long. That’s another reason why we are so afraid of emotions, like, oh my God. I don’t want to feel this. I don’t want to feel that. An emotion. I’m not talking about a feeling. An emotion is a physiological reaction of your body to something that happened and if you just let it be, it stays in your body for about 90 seconds.
Lousin: One minute and half. That’s it. That’s it. Then it comes down again. And you go back to your normal state of being, then you can connect to your brain again. However, if you don’t let it be, you want to push it aside. You pretend it’s not there Etc. Then it builds up. Builds up builds up that 90 seconds become more or it comes back later in a way that you didn’t expect at all. Those are the emotions that we are fearing. They weren’t the basic emotions. They are the emotions that are being triggered, because they were put away for such a long time. So, the number one thing to come your question. When somebody is going through an emotion is to let them go through it. Don’t be afraid of it. Create a space. Let them go. Don’t be afraid to be silent. And also if you want to give them the acknowledgement that you see what’s happening. And, you know, you’re not trying to pretend it’s not there. That’s one the worst things you could do is to actually acknowledge it. You know, I see that this is making you angry or oh, you know, thank you for showing me that this is something important to you. This allows them to feel what they’re feeling because it’s physiological again. You don’t think I’m going to become angry now. It happens because something happened and your body is reacting. So every emotion that somebody is going through is legitimate. They have the to feel that emotion. Who are you to say: Don’t be angry. So we don’t deny it. We don’t pretend it’s not there, but we let it be and we actually go further and we put the label on it. We put words on it to show them that, Okay, we see that, nothing is happening. And that way, you calm things down, people have the time to reconnect back to their neocortex. They’re thinking brain, and then you continue. So, you know, don’t take it personally. They’re going through an emotion, may be caused by you, maybe not. You might have been a trigger for something that was there such a long time that has nothing to do with you. Don’t take it personally. If they’re angry, they’re angry. Okay, and then, you know, it’s not a big deal.
Alexander: You mentioned, you can also learn a lot from it.
Lousin: Of course, because it’s giving you Intel again. That is why I say, you know, thank you for showing me that this matters to you.
Alexander: Yeah, and then you can learn more deeply. What exactly did you step over? Was it something that they have a meeting with their manager to report about it.
Lousin: Exactly that is when you can start digging and understanding. What is it really? In the example that you gave. If you, for example, become angry at me and I had noted somewhere that trustworthiness is important to you. Then I can ask you, you know, is this something that I have explained differently or that you expected differently, you know, do you have the feeling that you can trust me something like that and then speak in your own language? But yeah, that’s when you start digging up saying okay, what happened here? And how can we improve things? The problem is, people think conflict is bad, conflict is not bad. Conflict is an opportunity to come to something better than before the conflict. If you think about it, I’m sure you can think about an example in your life or many, where there was a disagreement. Let’s say with your partner, with your manager with whoever there was a disagreement. So there was a conflict because the disagreement was expressed. And then you had a conversation, and then the situation after it was actually better than before the conflict.
Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. Managing conflict actually helps you improve your relationships. Going back to the neighbor. Yeah, if the person addresses who recently, we talked about in upcoming vacation that we wanted to do together and we had difficulties kind of coming up with the same priorities and he then mentioned: Well, what do you really want from the vacation?
Lousin: Hmm. Nice question.
Alexander: Should we have some vacation together or not? Yeah, and so he stepped into this place where it felt quite uncomfortable. Yeah to have a discussion on maybe we don’t go together next vacation and that help quite a lot to open the space, be vulnerable and speak much more openly, and these kind of discussions. If you manage them, well, then you have a much better relationship afterwards. And I’m pretty sure people have that with their spouses as well.
Lousin: Absolutely. Yeah. Conflict is nothing more than an expressed disagreement. Okay. There is a disagreement you and I don’t agree about something and we actually express it. And then negotiation is a tool to come to an agreement. Negotiation is simply a tool to go from this agreement to an agreement. You can’t negotiate if there’s no disagreement. So conflict is where that comes in. The problem is how you deal with conflict. If you don’t know how to go from this agreement to agreement and then you use, you know, things like aggression, or manipulation, or lying, or that kind of stuff that is when conflict can become problematic, because you’re making it worse, but when you see it as an opportunity to come to something better. Because you can’t change the fact that there is going to be disagreements. I mean, that’s already a given. So might as well learn how to deal with it. And thank God, there are disagreements. Imagine if you and I were to agree on everything how horrible the world would be. Imagine you come to Dubai and you know, I show you around. I say, come on, I’m going to show you the city and I’m going to go to the Burj Khalifa and we’re going to go up and you are afraid of heights, but you can’t have a disagreement. So you’re going to go up there and you’re going to feel horrible and you don’t say anything. And then I tell you, you know, what? Let’s go to Ras Al Khaimah. There’s this beautiful zipline. It’s the highest in the world. And by now you’re like dying, but you said,
okay. Let’s go to the zip line because you can’t disagree, right? We of course, it’s good to have disagreements because that’s how you set your boundaries. That’s how you stay truthful to yourself. That’s how you do what you want to do. So it’s important to know that this agreement is not a problem. It’s important to be assertive. It’s important to respect that other people might have other opinions, and that’s a good thing. And that’s how you can enrich and learn and grow and develop yourself. Imagine if the whole world was exactly the same and we had the same opinions and we never disagreed and that would be horrible.
Alexander: Yeah. Yeah. Thanks so much. That was an awesome discussion about negotiation. We talked quite a lot about listening skills, something that we as introverts have especially good knowledge about but we still need to learn to really do it. And you mentioned some things like just a pause or just a Mm-hmm, and what else? And this kind of bridge has helped you to learn more and also to paraphrase what’s being said. And that’s it is also very, very powerful for handling emotions and to get out of the emotions. And back to the negotiation actually, because as you said, when we are completely in an emotional hijack, then it’s really really difficult to negotiate. And I have three kids. I can completely relate to that. If they are very emotional, then you just need to, you know, go to your room, get down, five minutes, come back and then, we have to talk about it. There’s no way and you know, going into their room and further discussing things. They don’t hear anything and they will actually even close their eyes just because they are not able to actually have a discussion here. Is there any one things that you would like the listeners to take away from this discussion, which was really, really valuable?
Lousin: Well, I’m happy. You went on about listening skills because I think, if you want to become a better negotiator, listening is the fastest way of improving your skills and it’s not easy. It’s simple but it’s not easy. So, yeah, listening if you can develop your listening skills, it will actually believe we will have a better world. When people listen better the danger though, is that once you become a better listener, you will be more triggered by people who don’t listen. And since that’s almost everybody. Yeah, I mean I still have that from time to time where somebody you know interrupts me several times in a row or shows me in another way that they’re not listening and I’m like, I don’t want to talk to you because you don’t listen. So, yeah. Beyond that, it’s a superpower. It’s a superpower. Most of the people don’t have it. So become a better listener and see how life improves. It’s worth investing in.
Alexander: Thanks so much, and stay tuned. We’ll surely have much more about negotiations in the future because it’s one of these fundamental things that always cross our roads and it’s, yeah, it’s just part of our work life. Thanks so much. And look into the show notes where you will find much more about Lousin and her training, what she’s doing online. There’s a lot of things that she’s sharing on LinkedIn and other areas, so stay tuned for that. Thanks so much.
Lousin: You are welcome. It was a pleasure talking to you.
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