Influencing and Negotiating

–Developing Influencing and Negotiating Abilities


While The Brain is completely fried from a full on day of learning about influencing and negotiating, I actually have a bit more breathing space because after 13 hours (including the boot-camp) am finally putting my feet up. So today was really interesting and I am sharing a couple of learning points, although there is a sneaky suspicion that most of the insights are not yet on a conscious level and will raise their ‘heureka’ heads later.

The training day

was run by Robin (myconsultants) focusing on various aspects of influencing and negotiating, role play, reflections (Well, what computer would you buy?). We learned about some theories, and psychological concepts: aka dipped our toes into terminology.

Got me at get go

Anyhow, a couple of my ‘sins’ became apparent within the first half an hour or so of the day. My most often used question is ‘why’ … because I want to understand not because I want to judge. However, ‘why’ is a value question and it tends to close a conversation down. I remember having read about this before and in family relationships make sure not to use it. I need to be much more vigilant not using it in work context.

‘What’ is a behaviour question which opens conversations…So first lesson right there and then.

You know this was one of these things my mom would label as: ‘knowing and knowing are two different things’ thing. (Now this just was too much thingmahingy!) I ‘knew’ that ‘why’ is not a helpful question and it can make people defensive…do I still use it all the time? Sure! So sometimes relearning within a different context makes the difference between ‘knowing and knowing’.


I forget. I sometimes simply forget to ask people how their weekend was, how they enjoyed the concert, if the new movie was good, or I forget to say good morning …. …. … it’s not that I am not interested. It’s just that something else overwrote. Maybe I saw you, and noticed you looked tired and got side-tracked by wondering if it is appropriate to ask if you are well. Or you have a new pair of earrings. Or there is this really nice pen on your desk.


There is–so we learned today–a model: FORE


Maybe I can learn this like a poem and remember more often to ask?

Is this an ADHD thing?

Now one of the things I try to figure out is what is my character and what is The Brain on ‘auto-pilot’. When someone tells a story I can relate to, I happily share similar or related experiences. And mostly this is creating common ground. So far so good. This is building rapport.

However! The Brain becomes very enthusiastic about certain topics and stages a total take-over: telling stories! And I mean Telling Stories! Light the fireplace! Bring out the hot chocolate! Get a blanket! Make yourself comfy kind of stories. So. Now there is a challenge.

Don’t have a better story! After all it is about listening and creating space.

This is a challenge indeed. Good thing is The Brain loves challenges! I can trick it into accepting said challenge. Let’s see how much I do not have a better story!*

The Main Sin

or insight if you wish

Create space for people to communicate.** Do not make assumptions. You may have seen  an earlier post about creating space for students when I worked in Student Development. Now, while I always created this space for students, I don’t consciously do this for colleagues, because my expectations and assumptions are different. I am not in that caring role. And particularly when it comes to the behated emails I do not leave space for that.

But what about the duty of care for one another?

One colleague and I have an agreement she gets ‘space-holder’ emails from me that usually do not make much sense, but she knows I am popping by later or call her and elaborate. These space-holders are just a memory help. My mentor fields emails, I am pretty sure he hates them darn things as much as I do, so to make sure he responds, the subject lines usually look something like:

  • 2 questions, yes/no only
  • quick meeting request
  • 3 points: 1 question, 2 FYI

And I bullet point the email. In these two instances we have managed to create space for one another.

So the quest to analyse communication with colleagues, and identify where I ought to create that space is on!

*So far most of the successful ADHD strategies for me relate to tricking The Brain into redefining situations. This is particularly helpful with the impaired executive function issues. Where translation from I know what to do to actually doing it does not happen.

**Here is a serious ADHD issue, most people speak in perceived slow motion. It is physically painful!

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