How to negotiate your high-stake conversation

Getting your way can be difficult

Whether you’re planning a performance discussion, giving confronting feedback or firing somebody, it’s assumed you will have an outcome in mind for this high-stake conversation.

When the conversation doesn’t go your way, things can get tricky. Have you ever experienced any of the following situations?

  • A performance conversation where your recipient is nothing but defensive
  • Giving someone confronting feedback and they get upset or cry
  • Firing someone in their probation period and they respond with anger
  • Going in to close a negotiation and being outright rejected
  • Having a coaching conversation with someone who has poor self-awareness

These situations can be made even worse when you don’t see it coming.

Here are 3 steps to strategising your high-stake conversations to ensure they play out your way.

  1. Brainstorm all the possible ways your recipient or counterpart may react or respond to your conversation

Yes, all of them, no matter how trivial it may seem. Brainstorming is about getting every single possibility onto paper.

2. Play out each scenario in its entirety

Be very clear and articulate when you do this. Make a flow chat for each possible option that follows the structure of:

“When I say this → they say that → I can respond with this”. This keeps the conversation moving in right direction.

Be clear on what the major benefits are of your situation and how they apply to all parties. Keep circling back to these points at the end of each scenario in the above flow chat structure.

3. Practice makes improvement

99% of people *HATE* role-playing. The other 1% generally win every high-stake conversation they enter.

Practice is necessary. If you don’t practice, it is the equivalent of someone instructing you to swim the 1500m freestyle Olympic final. Tomorrow. And you’re not even a swimmer. You’ll just dive into the pool and you’ll be exhausted after the first 100m, or you may even drown.

Surely you don’t assume that an Olympic swimmer just jumps in the pool and swims, right? There is a strategy to winning. One that they practice over and over again.

The same goes for any concert you’ve ever attended. The musicians don’t just get out their instruments and play to a crowd. They have dress-rehearsed more times than they even care to remember.

Practice is necessary. Unless you don’t want to win. In that case, go ahead and just wing it.