Ever found yourself locked head to head in a dead-end negotiation, where despite the outcome, everyone loses? In our zero-sum, dog-eat-dog world, these kinds of interactions are common, both in business and in life. Unfortunately, a world where winner takes all does not inspire us to be our best. At best it fosters unhealthy competition; at worst anger, jealousy and aggression.
What’s the alternative? A more conscious, spiritual approach to getting what you want, in a way that works for everyone.
In his new book, Enlightened Negotiation: 8 Universal Laws to Connect, Create and Prosper, Dr. Mehrad Nazari teaches people how to align real-world negotiations with their spiritual values.
Dr. Nazari has dedicated his life’s work to helping thousands of people around the world elevate their personal and professional interactions by enhancing their negotiation skills. Drawing on over thirty years of work as a consultant, facilitator and speaker teaching executives how to engage with stakeholders to achieve their higher purpose, the book is a guide to real-world, mindful negotiation practices drawing on the principles of Eastern wisdom traditions. Using his eight universal laws for engagement in conflict resolution and negotiation with others, Dr. Nazari teaches us how to assess each negotiation from a spiritual perspective, evaluate inherent risks to all parties, and exhaust every potential for mutually beneficial collaboration.
“Our world has become increasingly focused on ‘winning’ at all costs as opposed to finding mutually beneficial solutions,” says Dr. Nazari. “My goal is to help people discover and implement universal, effective ways to alter their negotiation skills and move forward in all of their relationships – whether business or personal – in a more affirming and mindful way.”
Dr. Nazari’s approach to negotiation is unique in that it is firmly rooted in yogic philosophy and advocates mindfulness and
conscious collaboration over haggling. A successful real estate broker turned yogi, Dr. Nazari was inspired to write the book while practicing yoga on his mat one day. There, he realized that negotiation and yoga have many similarities: success in both fields requires mindfulness, strength and flexibility, three of the main tenets of his book. With combined experience across many fields, Dr. Nazari helps people in the real world shift away from a more competitive, negative mindset to a more collaborative approach that allows all parties to win. In his book, he warns against taking dogmatic, zero-sum positions when negotiating, and offers these more conscious alternatives:
- Approaching negotiation as a war where whoever haggles the most “wins.”
A better approach: The true winner in a negotiation leaves all members in a “win- win-win” scenario. Haggling assumes that there is no room for cooperation and ends in a win-lose or lose-lose scenario; negotiation assumes that collaboration is possible and that everyone’s interests can be satisfied. The most important thing you can do in a negotiation is to find out each party’s interests and then work toward a mutually beneficial outcome.
- The “if they get more, I get less,” or vice versa assumption.
A better approach: Discover the underlying interest of each party and don’t assume it is always like dividing a pie evenly. A “win-win” outcome doesn’t always equate to a completely equal division. Creative solutions that satisfy each individual’s goal are often uncovered when true collaborative discussions take place.
- Coming to the negotiation table with a fixed position as opposed to a collaborative mindset.
A better approach: One of the laws of Enlightened Negotiation is the Law of Flexibility. Approaching a negotiation with an open mind allows you to flow around possible impediments. The key is to focus on the goal, not a specific path to it.
- The belief that speaking first weakens your position.
A better approach: In most cases, there are very good reasons to speak first, to set the tone and focus of the meeting on your own terms, and to capitalize on a key tool called anchoring. Anchoring is setting the starting point for a negotiation by establishing a first “offer” or parameter for the discussion.
- Believing that a dominant tone or body language equates to achieving a better deal and making fewer concessions.
A better approach: A dominant tone or body language is not appropriate for a negotiation for many reasons. For one, when you exhibit dominance, the other party will either do the same or become closed off and protective. Studies show that when in a “fight-or-flight” mindset, adrenaline inhibits cognitive performance, therefore prohibiting parties’ creativity and ability to collaborate. All of this energy wasted on projecting domination or on protection would be used for creative collaboration.
The next time you have an important transaction to negotiate, remember Dr. Nazari’s words of wisdom and try a more conscious approach where everyone wins. Though it takes more time and effort, you’re sure to feel better about the outcome – and yourself – after the deal is done.
Mehrad Nazari is the author of Enlightened Negotiation: 8 Universal Laws to Connect, Create and Prosper, (SelectBooks, New York), a guide to real-world, mindful negotiation practices drawing on the principles of Eastern wisdom traditions. Dr. Mehrad Nazari received an MBA degree and his California real estate broker license in 1981 and was awarded a PhD in Leadership and Human Behavior in 1992 with a focus on Integrative Negotiation. He spent a decade as a professor of International Business Negotiation at US International University in San Diego, California, is the founder and CEO of an award wining real estate investment firm based in San Diego, and is the co-founder of Raja Yoga Institute. Dr. Nazari is also a Senior Teacher in the Walt Baptiste Path of Raja Yoga, is Vice President of Teachers and Training for the Himalayan Yoga and Meditation Society International, and has been on the faculty at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur for the past fifteen years. He lives in La Jolla, California.