Thursday, September 3, 2015

Negotiations and the "Us vs. Them" Mentality

In my experience in Real Estate, it seems that as soon as a Buyer and Seller enter negotiations, it is often followed immediately by feelings of ultra-competitiveness and conflict. Rarely does a transaction occur where there is a supremely cooperative effort to accomplish a common goal.

I can't help but notice parallels from my time as a competitive athlete and coach. I am reminded of counsel from Dieter F. Uchtdorf as he addressed a group of Christian men. He began by asking the question, "How is it that normally kind and compassionate human beings can be so intolerant and filled with hatred toward an opposing team and its fans?" He continued, "I have watched sports fans vilify and demonize their rivals. They look for any flaw and magnify it. They justify their hatred with broad generalizations and apply them to everyone associated with the other team. When ill fortune afflicts their rival, they rejoice."

Recently, I had some clients that got caught up in this very mentality. Anything the other party did or said was construed as hurtful, callous, spiteful even. Any offer or request to be considered was taken as a direct, personal attack on my clients. A great divide had developed that hindered negotiations and progress. It was "Us" (the good guys) versus "Them" (the bad guys). Feelings of ill-will and resentment were abundant, and regrettably, I must admit I was caught up in it too. In discussions between myself and the other agent, it became apparent that there was no love loss between the two of us as well. I couldn't wait to find some way to "stick it to the other guys."

I pondered the situation as I sat awake in bed one night. What had happened? Why was it still happening? None of us on my side of the transaction knew the other party. I had never dealt with the other agent before. Why was the perception of them so jaded- and vice versa?

The next morning, it came to me. We are all working to accomplish the same thing. The Sellers want to sell, the Buyers want to buy. Sure, we each have our best interests in mind on either side of the deal. We each have the fiduciary obligations to our clients as Realtors®. But, do we have to despise each other? Does is need to be this difficult? We don't. It doesn't.

It all comes down to a matter of perspective. I think Stephen Covey explained this well in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In Habit 4: Think Win-Win, he states, "Think Win-Win isn't about being nice, nor is it a quick-fix technique. It is a character-based code for human interaction and collaboration.

Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failing--that is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life becomes a zero-sum game. There is only so much pie to go around, and if you get a big piece, there is less for me; it's not fair, and I'm going to make sure you don't get anymore. We all play the game, but how much fun is it really?

Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie, and it tastes pretty darn good!

A person or organization that approaches conflicts with a win-win attitude possesses three vital character traits:
  1. Integrity: sticking with your true feelings, values, and commitments
  2. Maturity: expressing your ideas and feelings with courage and consideration for the ideas and feelings of others
  3. Abundance Mentality: believing there is plenty for everyone
Many people think in terms of either/or: either you're nice or you're tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that--to achieve that balance between courage and consideration--is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win."(emphasis added)

There is always an opportunity to produce a win-win situation in any transaction. It is important to remember both sides and keep that perspective- not to weaken your stance as a negotiator, but to maintain the integrity of the deal and your relationships with all involved. After all, as Realtors®, we live by a higher code of ethics. We can get our Buyers the home they want, and we can get our Sellers the price they need, we may just need to eat a little humble pie from time to time- there's plenty of that to go around!

If you or someone you know is interested in buying or selling a home, please call me. I'm happy to help!


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