The Citadel Military College and the rock band Journey offer great lessons for advance preparation for how to negotiate. Read more to find out why.
One of the 50 ways to create win-win results in the Think Like A Negotiator book is to prepare in advance for your negotiation. That means first building a solid foundation of negotiation skills to use when you are sitting down to a negotiation whether it’s a multi million dollar contract, a large real estate deal, a job interview, a credit card dispute, getting your kids to take out the trash or planning where to meet for dinner. You need good negotiation skills in all of these circumstances and many more. It doesn’t matter how significant the negotiation may be, the skills you draw on are the same in any case.
Many people are intimidated by the mere thought of negotiation let alone sitting down to do it. This is mainly because people feel its confrontational and they are uncomfortable with confrontation. However, if you take this one strategy to heart and work on your preparation, when you sit down to a negotiation, you will have more confidence and power, which will carry you through to success.
Preparation includes having a strategy for questions or comments the other side may have about your proposal. It can include doing research on the company or person you are sitting down with such as finding an affinity or commonality with them or finding some information you can use such as market position or innovative ideas they have recently been involved in. It may include getting outside advice depending on the type of proposal you are working with.
More importantly, preparation includes having some kind of firm foundation of experience to go in with to have a solid core foundation to stand firm on. The Olympic athelete didn’t come to the trials and hope to make it without any training to pull from. The sports team doesn’t go out on the field with no plan or core strength to operate from. The time to get that core strength is not when you are ready to negotiate.
To illustrate this, lets take a look at two very different cases.
The Citadel was established in 1842 and is considered one of the six senior military colleges in the United States. It was officially all male until 1996, in 1995 Shannon Faulkner won a legal battle and was granted admission by order of a federal judge; she reported the first day of freshmen orientation, but was admitted to the school’s infirmary immediately following lunch on the first day of military training. Faulkner remained in the infirmary for less than a week and quit.
Shannon Faulkner wanted to get into the school, she did the necessary things to challenge the admission policies and won. However, she did nothing to prepare in advance for actually attending the school that would enable her to successfully complete the challenges she would face. She was not in great physical shape. She was not mentally or emotionally prepared for 1. The normal mental and emotional rigors that go on in the school 2. The fallout from the public including death threats and hate letters 3. The obvious extra tension and behavior from the school and male students for bucking the system. All of this resulted in a colossal fail.
The lesson here is that no matter what you are taking on, you better be prepared in advance before going into a situation and consider all consequences and circumstances that might surround your actions or choices. You may not be able to be prepared for everything that might happen but you need to consider all options and do the work in advance so you can handle even the unexpected and have a plan of action on how to execute a strategy to solve or overcome any situation.
Let’s look at another case where being prepared for the dream of a lifetime opens many doors. In the world of rock and roll Journey was the premier band of the 80’s selling millions of records. I saw them twice at different concerts. In fact, when I lived in Pensacola, no one would go with me to the 1980 concert in Mobile Alabama (an hour away from where I lived). The solution? I went by myself because I really wanted to go. I had a blast. After lead singer Steve Perry left the band and 2 other singers didn’t last, Journey was left with a dilemma to find another singer to keep the music alive.
Enter Arnel Pineda who is a native of the Philippines and started singing when he was a very young child. His mother encouraged him to sing. She died when he was 13 and the family lost their home and was split up with different relatives. Arnel was on the streets for a couple of years but when he was 15 he started singing with various bands and had some small success. He supported his family from his singing. He had been singing for years. He built a solid foundation. He had some exposure to the music industry, he did the work.
One night in 2007, Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon, came across a YouTube video of Arnel performing Journey’s hit Faithfully in the bar of a hotel in the Philippines. He immediately contacted Arnel for an audition. Arnel at first thought it was a hoax. However after a conversation on the phone with Neal, he was quickly on the way to the U.S. to audition for the band Journey as their new lead singer.
To see the story about Arnel’s “Journey” check out the documentary Don’t Stop Believin, Everyman’s Journey on Netflix (probably find it on Hulu and Amazon and even YouTube).
Fast forward to today, Journey has been touring for 7 years with Arnel as their lead singer to continued sold out crowds including last night in Irvine CA. Last night I was one of many in the audience at the Verizon Amphitheater in Irvine to experience Journey with Arnel. I have to say it was amazing and proof positive that preparation is the key to success.
What is the difference between these two stories? The Citadel and Journey? Shanon Faulkner had a dream, she wasn’t prepared for that dream. Arnel Pineda also had a dream. He prepared his whole life to walk into this dream but when he got there, he didn’t stop before his first big gig, he continued to prepare in advance of the show. He talks about it in the documentary. “I wasn’t nervous. I was prepared. I practiced a lot. I was confident.” He said “we practice for two weeks and I didn’t lose my voice”
What does this have to do with negotiation? Everything. In order to be a good negotiator, you need confidence, confidence comes from being prepared in advance of when you need those skills. You can’t walk into a situation with no preparation and expect to be a success. These two stories compare and contrast how being prepared can bring you success and not being prepared will be instrumental in dismantling your success.
Bottom line, take a lesson from both of these stories. Make your preparations for your next negotiation. Preparing in advance is one of the biggest things you need to consider in order to have a great outcome in your negotiations. When you are prepared, you will be ready when you have the opportunity to step into this kind of an opportunity in your own arena: