Your biggest negotiation derailer might be…you

by Sarah Breigle, Linkage Leadership Blog

The first keynote speaker at our Women in Leadership Institute™, Erica Ariel Fox, is an expert in an area many leaders feel is a challenge for them: negotiation.

When we think of negotiation, we often think of buying a car or a house. We think about the process of trying to get the best deal. But, the reality is, most of us are constantly interacting with other people, and are thus using negotiation. Its pervasiveness makes skillful negotiation so valuable.

Getting to the right question

Getting to Yes, first published in 1981, offered up a principle that says you should separate the people from the problem. In other words, instead of seeing someone as the problem—as your opponent—you should team up with them to address the problem.

But what if you can’t separate the difficult people from the problem? That led to Difficult Conversations. But that still doesn’t account for the fact that sometimes, even when we have—and have practiced—the right skills and behaviors, we still don’t do or say what we know we should do or say. In other words, what do I do when I’m the problem? That’s where Erica’s work on Winning from Within comes in.

Inner negotiation

Often, where the negotiation tug-of-war is really taking place is inside us. And almost everyone has a performance gap—that’s the gap between what you know you should do in theory and what you actually do in real life. This gap comes from the inner negotiator. You need to learn about your inner negotiators and help them broker a deal to help close those gaps.

So, focusing on other people is important, but it’s more important to learn how to negotiate with yourself first. You need a map and a method for learning about your inner negotiators so you can recognize and foster a dialogue with them.

The ‘Big Four’ inner negotiators

There are many potential inner negotiators, but there are four important ones. They don’t tell the whole story, but if you learn how to use these four effectively, you are well on your way to becoming more effective in your leadership and in your life.

Dreamer – fueled by intuition and focuses on possibilities and what is the open potential of the future; takes an inspirational perspective

Thinker – leads with reason and focuses on perspective and trying to understand things; takes an analytical perspective

Lover – operates with emotion and focuses on people; takes a relational perspective

Warrior – draws on will power and focuses on performance and getting things done; takes a practical perspective

If you are like most people, you probably think not all of these apply to you, but in fact they are universal. It’s important to note that this is not a hierarchy—one is not better than another. The key to effective leadership over time is the capacity to call on any one of the Big Four at the right time for the right reason.

What are your tendencies? Take this short survey to get a snapshot of where your tendencies are. Share your thoughts and feedback with us in the comments below.

To learn more about your inner negotiators, visit, or check out Erica’s new book Winning From Within.

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