A bleach cure and other myths

We are being inundated with misleading claims about COVID-19 and phony remedies. We’ve all seen President Trump discuss injecting bleach and we’ve heard people blame 5G mobile networks for the virus. In fact, there are so many misleading claims circulating about causes of the virus and how it can be treated that the World Health Organization was compelled to set up a myth busters page with downloadable graphics (à la the one I have posted).

It seems that myths gain traction in uncertain times as we try to make sense of what is going on.

Similarly, it is easy for myths to develop around skills that seem elusive or intimidating … skills like leadership, selling or negotiation.

So, while we are here, I thought I’d bust a common myth about negotiation: that great negotiators are born, not made. A commonly held view is that good negotiators possess some scarce, innate ability to persuade other people. While it’s true that some negotiators are naturals, most are not. Most people who have developed into successful negotiators have honed their skills through training in proven methodologies, lots of practice, and steely determination.

Here are two public service announcements:

  1. Don’t drink bleach.
  2. Let me show you how you can become a self-made negotiator.

This model is all you need right now

I’ve solved it!

This little model is all you need in these uncertain times.

I designed this as a guide to negotiating during these Covid-19 days but, guess what? It helps with any decision you need to make at the moment.

Should I ride my bike around the bay? If I can trust my skills but am not sure if the crowd will be too crazy, inch forward. If you know that everyone is at home watching MasterChef but your bike-riding skills are rusty, wait it out for now.

Should you fire up the oven in a moment of boredom to make a chocolate souffle? If you have the right ingredients, a good oven and you’ve done it successfully before, then go for it. If you’ve never made a souffle and you are short on eggs, then no, don’t even consider it.

See how this works?

In terms of negotiating something in these uncertain times, it’s fine to proceed if the other party is someone you trust, and you have enough predictability in the situation. But, please, don’t start negotiating with someone if there is low trust. Even if the situation has a high level of certainty, there is too much flux elsewhere so it’s not a good time. Just wait it out and spend the time building trust until the right time to proceed comes along.

If you are wondering why this model is valid now, in Corona-times, and not all the time, the answer is the context. With the souffle example, in non-Corona times you could start preparing the souffle in the knowledge that eggs are readily available at a corner store. With the bike ride, it would be fine to take your rusty skills out for a spin on a quiet day. And for the negotiation, in non-Covid times you would probably proceed while exploring opportunities with the other party to improve the relationship and decrease uncertainty.

Can you think of other ways this model applies in these uncertain times?


In Praise of Doctors

The 30th of March is National Doctors’ Day in the USA. Australia doesn’t seem to recognise this day widely but right now, amid a pandemic, it’s a bandwagon worth jumping on.

Send a message of thanks to the doctors you know – those on the frontline of Covid-19 and all of the others who are holding up the rest of the health system and keeping us safe.

If you want to hear about the work I am doing with female doctors, get in touch if to receive a copy of my latest whitepaper: “Negotiation Skills as a Remedy for Gender Bias in Medicine”.

The difference a month makes

I have just emailed a follow-up to a great group of people who attended my Introduction to Sustainable Negotiation training course a month ago. I like to follow up on Learning Plans a week, a month and three months after training and today’s email was the one-month check-in.

But what a month! A month ago, we had four Covid-19 cases in Australia and we’d never heard of social distancing. A month ago, there were no queues snaking around the block at Centrelink offices. A month ago, the Liberal Party still had its “Back in Black” mug for sale.

My follow-up emails are business as usual, but it is not business as usual in Australia right now.

Strangely, there is no better time to learn to negotiate – we are all negotiating for limited resources, many of us are negotiating with staff about changes to their jobs, some of us are facing unemployment and are negotiating with Centrelink and landlords, a few of us are negotiating with banks about interest rates, and almost all of us are negotiating with family members about how to share the house while we work from home.

It is not business as usual for me either. I have always delivered negotiation coaching over Zoom but am now adapting my group training courses to be delivered this way too.

Despite all this, it doesn’t feel quite right to be marketing at present. So, if you need support negotiating something or help with boosting your skills, get in touch. But if you just want to chat, or get a second opinion on a decision, or talk through what you have on your plate, that’s fine too. Just get in touch.