Negotiating Skills and the 10 Powers of Negotiation: The Critical Role of Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking and the 10 Powers of Negotiation…

Does anyone doubt that men and woman are sometimes different — or that they sometimes view the world differently? Has anyone experienced how men and women can sometimes have different perceptions of the same event? Can anyone seriously dispute that men and women sometimes approach relationships quite differently? So, why is this? And why is this even remotely relevant in the context of negotiation?

To negotiate effectively, we need to use both sides of our brain. Left-brain people focus on logic, mathematics, rational thought, and black-and-white thinking. Approximately 90% of men in the world are left-brain dominated. Right-brain people focus on intuition, emotion and creativity. Approximately 90% of women in the world are right-brain dominated. To be effective negotiators, we must become lateral thinkers by learning to use both sides of our brain.

After spending more than 30 years negotiating agreements around the world and after researching Nelson Mandela’s approach to his historic negotiations with the South African apartheid government, I identified 10 Powers of Negotiation. These 10 Powers reveal the critical role of lateral thinking in the negotiating process by highlighting that negotiators need both left and right-brain skills. You will notice that some require predominantly left-brain skills and others require predominantly right-brain skills. But, to pull all the Powers together, negotiators require a combination of both.

These are the 10 Powers:

• The power of understanding that a negotiation is a process.

• The power of preparation.

• The power of positioning.

• The power of common sense and logic.

• The power of dignity, congeniality, humility and humor.

• The power of truth and fairness.

• The power of observation – of listening and seeing.

• The power of morality, courage and attitude.

• The power of patience.

• The power to walk away.

The advantages of lateral thinking…

Because lateral thinkers are people who have the ability to use both the left and right sides of their brain, they have significantly more insight into human behavior than those who are not lateral thinkers. They not only see unusual patterns of behavior that others might miss, they also have a more nuanced and layered sense of what is happening around them. Because of this, they also see more options for problem solving and have far superior problem solving skills than those who are not lateral thinkers.

And because the negotiating process is about identifying the problems each side is hoping to solve, the identification of the problems and finding different options and approaches to solving those problems lie at the very core of any successful negotiation.

Lateral thinking and empathy…

Nelson Mandela’s negotiating skills and experiences highlight the enormous importance of looking at every negotiation through the eyes of those with whom you are negotiating. He saw the enormous advantages that this can present on many different levels in a negotiation. His life is a remarkable window into his lateral thinking skills. It is quite fascinating how he honed these skills during his life and how he used them in his negotiations with the South African government.

When it comes to being able to see the world through the other side’s eyes, empathy is the name of the game. While it might be tempting to argue, using left-brain skills, that a position the other side is taking is “logical” or “illogical” or “black-and-white,” almost invariably the right-brain skills are far more telling and useful. Clearly, to get into someone’s head we need to tap into their emotional state and understand it. We need to tap into whatever intuitive skills we can muster. In doing so, we come to realize the enormous advantages most women have over those of us who are predominantly left-brain oriented.

This is why we either have to develop both left-brain and right-brain skills, or we have to assemble negotiating teams that possess these skills.

How lateral thinking exposes the risk of negotiating alone…

I’ve accepted that I’m a predominantly left-brain person. I think of myself as logical and rational — perhaps to a fault. I’ve also always accepted the problem that this almost inevitably creates — and the opportunities that I might lose as a result. I’ve therefore accepted the absolute need to work on my right-brain functionality. Unfortunately, what I’ve sometimes found is that, as I began to focus on my right-brain development, I often found myself taking my eye off my left-brain functionality. I needed to find a solution to this — and I did.

I decided that, whenever possible, I would never negotiate alone. Instead, I wanted at my side the smartest right-brain negotiator I could find — as well as the smartest left-brain negotiator to keep me focused. I would have to gather around me the smartest right-brain and left-brain people I could find. And because 90% of women are right-brain dominant, that was where I’d look for the right-brain part of my team.

As the 10 Powers of Negotiation highlights, negotiators have to keep their eyes on my different balls simultaneously. And as they have to observe and listen to the other side’s negotiating team, and particularly when that team is sometimes quite large, it is almost impossible to do this alone. To have a team of left and right-brain negotiators watching and listening and assessing what is happening is a huge advantage and will always yield a better result than handling this alone.

So, don’t be proud, folks. Gather together a team of the most skilled lateral thinkers you can find…

How To Grab And Keep Audience Attention During A Presentation

One of the most important challenges for a presenter is first grabbing and then keeping the attention of an audience. If the presenter is unable to do this, the presentation might not succeed, no matter how valuable the content might be. When a presenter is waiting for his turn and slyly looks over the crowd before having to step in, panic tends to overwhelm. This is a familiar feeling for many.

Audiences might seem intimidating or too chaotic at first but there are ways to grab and keep their attention. We must remember here that grabbing their attention is not enough. We must hold their attention during the entire length of our presentation. Many speakers try to grab attention in numerous ways, e.g. by telling the latest joke or by making a flamboyant entry. This can grab attention but does not establish relevance, so after some time people might wander away or fall off.

This kind of attention grabbing trick, which is not actually relevant to the topic or theme of the presentation, may be effective in grabbing attention for the presenter momentarily, but then people see these as tricks and seldom remember the actual presentation or the message it had for them. Jumping on the table or landing on the stage from a helicopter would definitely catch the audience, but if your presentation is not as flamboyant and gripping the effect wears off quickly.

Here are some of the most commonly used methods for successfully getting and keeping audience attention.

1. Asking a question.

You can ask a rhetorical question or something that involves everyone by getting him or her to think about the topic.

  • How many of you in this room have hated filling up tax returns?
  • How many of you drive a German car?
  • Are our competitors driving us out of the market?

You can wait a short time after the question to get some information about your audience, but don’t wait too long as members of the audience feel stupid if no one knows the answer. Avoid open-ended questions and ask only questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no unless you are confident in skilfully using such questions. If you ask too general questions like “What is the purpose of life?” people might form an impression that your presentation is very general.

2.State an impressive fact.

Begin with a shocking, unusual or impressive fact connected to the theme of your presentation.

  • We are going to be out of business in six months if we allow our competitors to outrun us like this.
  • The demand in the market has doubled in the last three years and our market share has risen by only 1%.

3. Tell a story.

Telling a personal story closely connected to the theme of your presentation is a great way to begin. People usually like to hear personal stories, which are not too long or try to glorify the narrator too much.


Dear colleagues, before I begin I would like to tell you a short story about how our service got its name. Don’t worry, it’s not too long“.

A Tale from India

Three fish lived in a pond. One was named Plan Ahead, another was Think Fast, and the third was named Wait and See. One day they heard a fisherman say that he was going to cast his net in their pond the next day. Plan Ahead said, “I’m swimming down the river tonight! Think Fast said, “I’m sure I’ll come up with a plan.” Wait and See lazily said, “I just can’t think about it now!” When the fisherman cast his nets, Plan Ahead was long gone. But Think Fast and Wait and See were caught! Think Fast quickly rolled his belly up and pretended to be dead. “Oh, this fish is no good!” said the fisherman, and threw him safely back into the water. But, Wait and See ended up in the fish market. That is why they say, “In times of danger, when the net is cast, plan ahead or plan to think fast!

4. Cite a quotation.

Quotations are much used for presentations and they add a colourful touch to your personal style.

A short saying often contains much wisdom.” Sophocles (496 BC – 406 BC)

No culture can live, if it attempts to be exclusive.”

Mahatma Gandhi

Though they may be impressive, quotations do not have much shock-value and could be forgotten quickly. So they should be augmented by other methods of gaining audience attention. Remember also that use quotations sparingly. If you use too many quotations, people start to think that you have nothing original to say as you’re always borrowing other people’s sayings.

5. Narrate a joke.

Jokes are wonderful for relaxing the audience and setting a cheerful mood. Relaxed audiences tend to be more interactive. This might make the presenters work somewhat easier.

The joke must be appropriate. People have very different senses of humor and you have to be very careful with jokes. What might produce rolls of laughter from one audience might cause stunned silence in another.

Experiment with the joke first with people you know to check how it works and if poor language skills hinder understanding of the joke. It is very embarrassing if you are the only one who gets the joke and no one can laugh for the right reason. Some jokes to avoid are sexual, religious, ethnic and political issues as people are very sensitive in these areas.

One thing to be careful about is the cultural relativity of humor. In many cultures the locals crack jokes about many things and everybody rolls in laughter, but the moment a person from another culture or overseas head office makes the same joke, it can cease to be a joke and become a cultural affront.

6. Go among the audience.

Presenters usually keep to the area in front, near the laptop or the transparency projector. This creates a comfort zone for many people in the audience. Some courageous presenters disturb this comfort zone of the audience by walking closer or going absolutely to one side. Then the primitive instincts of the people in their comfort zone start waking them up. “The presenter is so close and next he’ll even ask me something, so I better be alert“.

Attention-grabbing skills are important for establishing relevance to your audience. Most of the people in the audience are often not mentally present or with you when you begin to speak. Even if they are physically present there and are trying to look interested, in reality, they are in their own worlds. They are thinking about work matters, planning the rest of their day, thinking about a problem of their own or just daydreaming. You have to bring them into your world and get them interested in your subject.

Attention-grabbing skills are your tool for helping the audience tune in to your subject. These skills for grabbing audience attention is not about your ego, you’re just helping them to tune in. When you have something worthwhile saying, and your audience feel that you’re actually guiding them and helping them focus on your topic, they will appreciate this and reward you with eager attention and active participation. Then at the end you will feel elated as they clap to show their appreciation.

The best place to keep a presentation is a prison; they already have a captive audience.

Enjoy your presentations!

How to Improve Your Medical Facility for Your Patients

If you’ve been looking for viable upgrades to improve your patients’ experience and recovery in your medical facility, then you came to the right place. A hospital facility is a special building, so it makes sense why many hospital owners or managers find it difficult to find effective upgrades that don’t require an immense amount of planning or finances. Lucky for you, there are relatively simple and inexpensive upgrades you can make in your facility to boost service delivery. They include the following:

Improve the ambience in the patients’ rooms
Hospital rooms dedicated to patients tend to be small and dull. It’s not uncommon to find gray or green walls, and poor lighting in the rooms, and that’s why many people don’t like being in medical facilities. There’s nothing wrong with upgrading your hospital rooms to resemble the comfortable hotel rooms. You can have walls that incorporate soothing colors, add pictures depicting beautiful nature scenes, and increase the space for your patients’ visitors. Such simple improvements are enough to boost the mood, satisfaction and happiness in your patients, and encourage the presence of your patients’ support network. You can also include a window to allow your patients to view nature and receive more sunlight. According to a Psychosomatic Medicine study that was conducted in 2005, patients who receive more sunlight require fewer painkillers, reducing the medical costs by 21%.

Improve your surgical lighting
You should also make lighting upgrades in your surgical rooms to improve visibility for your surgeons; doing so can boost their efficiency. If you’ve not attained the right hospital lighting standards in your facility, your surgeons can make mistakes that may put your patients’ lives at risk. Moreover, the medical officers are likely to be less productive in poorly lit environments due to eye and neck strain, and the resulting fatigue. You should therefore invest in lighting systems that strike a good balance between shadow dilution, brightness, volume and temperature to optimize visibility.

Invest in big data
One of the best ways of improving patient outcomes in your medical facility is investing in a method that reduces the risk of human error. With neural networks, you can improve your diagnostic process by analyzing a wide range of data. As you know, data is a great way to predict the course of various diseases; it can assist your medical professionals reduce the patients’ likelihood of developing fresh complications. You can also use data strategically to streamline your workflows. For instance, you can boost your operating room schedule by analyzing your hospital records, making your team members more productive.

Reduce the noise
Medical facilities tend to be noisy due to things like overhead paging, staff discussions and nighttime vitals checks. According to research, noise in hospitals can increase a patient’s anxiety, disrupt their sleep, affect pain management and lead to blood pressure spikes. In most medical facilities, the acoustics rarely reduce the noise effectively; luckily, there are easy ways to quiet the building. You can install sound-absorbing tiles and retrofit older environments within the building for minimal noise. What’s more, you can educate your staff on the importance of quietness in boosting patient comfort, healing and satisfaction.

Moreover, you can check your electronic devices, like monitors and alarm systems, and ensure that they’re not a source of noise and stress to your patients. If you have to, replace your devices with quieter ones. Of course, avoid scheduling housekeeping, maintenance or other operations in the evening hours.

Establish private rooms
You can increase your patients’ recovery by providing them access to private rooms. This relatively simple intervention can assist reduce your patients’ stress and comfort, make it easy for them to sleep and recover. One Canadian study found that each roommate a patient gets increases their chances of getting a superbug by 10%. Remember that privacy and dignity are important factors to patients too. For instance, having a private room can encourage the presence of your patients’ loved ones, leading to more comfort, less stress and better patient satisfaction.

If you are thinking of improving your medical care, you should implement the techniques discussed above to increase your chances of success. In summary, improve the ambience in the patients’ rooms, boost your surgical lighting, invest in big data, reduce the noise and try to ensure your patients access private rooms. All these methods can improve employee and patient satisfaction tremendously.