Three Key Principles for Negotiating as a Leader

Three Key Principles for Negotiating as a Leader

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It's no coincidence that the principles behind interest-based negotiation framework dovetail with time-proven leadership principles. 

1. Success is 80% mindset and 20% tactics. My clients are applying this insight to reinvent their lives and careers from stifling to thriving. Success is an inside job.
2. Ask open questions to understand their why before seeking to be understood. Far from being "nice," this is a powerful strategy that enables my clients to win over a room of naysayers, flip no to yes, and turn transactions into transformational conversations.
3. Be ready to tell a new story. My career changed when I stopped telling myself, "I can't do it," and started saying, "I will walk the talk I give."
What new story will you tell? Come to www.jamieleecoach.comfor future webinar updates and more.

Full Episode Transcript

Hello! Welcome to Episode 35 of Born to Thrive with Jamie Lee. I’m your host and coach, Jamie Lee.

I believe that we are all born to thrive.

I know that some people are rolling their eyes when they hear me say that but I really do.

I’m not religious. I do consider myself spiritual and I know that we are all created for a reason. For a really good reason which is to expand, to thrive, and to be happy.

And for me, I thrive when I get to help other people thrive and that’s why I feel like I have the best job in the world.

I work as a coach. I train and I teach people leadership and negotiation principles that can help them become more brave, bold, and better paid.

And, you know, I’m on a mission to help double women’s income.

Late last year, at the end of 2017, I was visualizing what would make the end of 2018 really awesome.

And here’s a lesson for you, if you are working towards a goal, start from the end. What would you like to have happened at the end? What would make whatever project or goal you’re working towards, what would make it super awesome for you? What would be the x, y, and z that you would want to see?

And for me, that was having made such an impact that I’ve helped double somebody’s income.

That’s really an exciting goal for me because I want to be part of the solution, not the problem, when it comes to the gender wage gap and I believe that we can make change happen one conversation - one really powerful and transformational conversation - at a time.

And that’s why I teach negotiation because negotiation is simply a conversation with the intention of reaching agreement. I don’t think of negotiation as confrontation, manipulation, or some sort of a trick or a game that you play.

And I also believe that money is awesome. Money itself is not the end-all, be-all of success but that money is a really great tool that can help solve problems, like money problems.

And when you have money you can save time and when you have more time you can do more good. You can make even more impact. So money is awesome.

And I believe that women who negotiate are to be celebrated, not judged, because women who negotiate are women who lead and we need women to lead.

So, I want to share with you three quick principles.

Well, not quick. They’re key principles behind collaborative, interest-based negotiation framework which is the framework that I teach my clients because they dovetail so beautifully with time-proven leadership principles.

So, the first one is that success is 80% mindset and only 20% tactics.

I know a lot of people get hung up on, “What do I say? What do I do? Tell me all the tactics you use!” and I think that’s a mistaken approach.

First, we have to get clear on what we are thinking and believing because what we think and believe get expressed through our emotions, our body language, our tone, things that we do unconsciously like self-sabotage. And it’s in the actions that are generated from our feelings that generate our results.

Let me say it one more time: What we think and believe are so powerful because they impact our emotions and our emotions impact our actions or inactions, and it’s our actions or inactions that generate the results we have in our life and career.

And I think the really powerful thing is that when you believe in your worthiness, no matter what the circumstances are in your life, that’s when you show up as a leader. That’s when you show up brave, willing to risk change, willing to risk a brave conversation and be engaged, willing to make change happen.

Now, when you hear me say that you’ll be like, “Ugh! Here’s another coach who’s telling me I gotta believe in myself. Okay, tell me, how is this new?”

It’s not.

But what I will tell you is that you don’t just believe in yourself after you just decide, you just snap a finger and it’s done.

No, no.

You really gotta practice. You gotta put in the work to believe in yourself and I’ll be honest with you, this is the biggest part of my coaching work with clients. It’s not so much the strategy and script. Yes, I mean, I do the strategy and scripts, but at the heart of it, we gotta believe in you.

You gotta believe in you before you can say the words and really mean it and have other people believe in it.

It takes consistent effort to have the thoughts that support the feeling of confidence, the feeling of bravery, the feeling of courage no matter what.

A lot of people, and I make this same mistake, we are waiting for the circumstances in our lives to line up with the results that we desire. We want to wait until the circumstances are lined up with the results that we want for us to think that we are worthy, for us to feel good and confident, for us to be able to take that confident action and get what we want.

It doesn’t work that way, right?

Think about it. The people who really believe in their vision, they take action, they sound confident, they stand tall, they engage, and they get what they want because they are thinking and feeling and acting from a place of worthiness, of self-respect, of self-appreciation.

So, this takes work, like I said. It sounds like, “What?! What do you mean success is an inside job? What do you mean success is 80% mindset? That’s so fluffy and soft and I don’t get it.”

Well, the truth of the matter is this is bloody hard work.

It takes a lot of effort to really believe in yourself, consistently, with practice.

The second thing I want to share with you, the second key principle of collaborative, interest-based negotiation that also happens to be a really powerful leadership principle, is that you want to ask open questions first to better understand your counterpart’s why before you seek to be understood.

I think I am quoting Stephen Covey and the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

I did a webinar yesterday on the 7 Elements of Negotiation Framework and I had somebody ask me, “Okay, so when you know your position, when you know what you want, do you start by stating your position, stating what you want?” and my short answer is: No.

You don’t start with what you want. I mean, sure that can be effective in a very specific situation, if they’re asking, “Just tell me what you want!” Okay, you might want to start there, sure. There is a caveat that this advice should be taken with a grain of salt, depending on your situation, on the very specific context of your situation but in terms of overall principle and big picture strategy, first you want to better understand why the other side wants what they want.

So, let’s break it down. First, you want to understand what they want, right? Then you want to understand why they want it. And even better, you want to understand, okay, what are their preferences? What are their goals? What are their fears? What are their desires?

And you do that by asking them open-ended, diagnostic questions.

And this takes courage. It’s a powerful skill to ask really good, open-ended questions. It’s the strategy that the FBI hostage negotiators use, it’s the strategy of the most successful coaches and leaders.

It requires you to be bold and to lead with your ear.

It requires you to manager yourself so well that you can listen more deeply than anyone has ever done for your negotiation counterpart.

This is how you win people over.

And this is not a strategy of being nice. It’s not a strategy of being a pushover because just because you’re asking open-ended questions doesn’t mean that you’re just immediately gonna go do whatever they ask you to do. No. You are gaining really powerful insight and information which is power.

This is a powerful strategy and I’ve given some examples in this podcast and past webinars but asking open-ended, diagnostic questions has the power to turn transactions into transformational conversations.

To give you one example, when I worked as an operations person at a startup, there was a bit of a conflict with the Sales Director around some reporting procedure. And it was very tempting, I was in the meeting, the emotions were kind of running high, it’s a little tense, yeah? And I have the Itty Bitty Shouldy Committee in my head and it was very tempting to let my brain run off with the story that Oh, they are mad at me! It’s my fault! I didn’t do a good enough job! This is gonna reflect poorly on my performance review. Everyone thinks I’m a whatever, failure, not good enough, blah, blah, blah.

Boring, boring old story.

But I decided that I’m going to apply some of the strategies to myself, you know, the negotiation strategies I had learned over the years. And I decided, in an instant, that I’m not going to get defensive, I’m just going to get curious. I’m just going to open myself up. Maybe I don’t know what’s going on.

So, I asked, “Okay, Sales Director, I hear that this is the situation. What would be an ideal outcome for you?”

And this completely transformed the nature of the conversation. He visibly relaxed and he said, “Well, actually, the ideal outcome would be that the sales team own this process, end-to-end. That would be the ideal situation.” So I realized, okay, this wasn’t about me at all. And from there, we arrived at a collaborative solution to the problem that we were sharing.

So, ask open-ended questions. Ask them more than you ask leading questions.

Last week, I led a workshop for the Association of Corporate Counsels, and going in, I thought, “What can I teach a room full of high-flying lawyers who negotiate day-in and day-out, every day?”

And it turned out that the strategy of asking open-ended, diagnostic questions to get past impasse, to get past no, to better understand the underlying interests or the underlying why of the other side was something new to them. It was something that they hadn’t really thought about, so it’s a very powerful strategy and a very powerful leadership tool as well.

And finally, be ready to tell a new story.

For me, I started teaching negotiation six years ago because I needed to learn it so badly, and I realized the best way to learn is to teach it. And so, I started learning so that I can teach and apply it to myself.

And I had the story that oh, I can’t negotiate for myself. People will judge me, will call me a bitch - excuse my language - will call me names or think I’m aggressive.

I had the same stories, but then I stopped telling myself that I can’t do it and I started saying I will walk the talk I give.

And that story generated the feelings of bravery. That story generated the feelings of determination, commitment. And from there, I started making bold asks, and now I have the best career.

And so, start telling a new story.

What about you?

What is the story that you’re telling about you in regards to your negotiation and leadership skills?

And is that story serving you? And if not, what’s a better story to tell?

Again, we’re coming back to the mindset because it’s just so important. 80% of your success is mindset. The strategy, the tactics, that’s just 20%. That’s just details.

And so, I just want to wrap this up with: Please let me know. Feel free to reach out to me at

I will be hosting more webinars in the Fall. I will be doing more collaboration webinars with other women’s networks, as well. So, if you want to stay up to date, come to and feel free to reach out to me.

I hope you have a wonderful week and I will talk to you next week. Bye bye!

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