You might think that language and culture are the biggest obstacles to rational negotiation. But you would be wrong. David Loseby, Group Procurement Director at Inchcape PLC explains why.
Having just spent the last few days with a group of people from six different countries, training and facilitating sessions in the wonderful age old art of negotiation, I came to the conclusion that; Two singular behavioural factors are arguably the most significant, became abundantly clear.
And yes you would be wrong for jumping to the rational conclusion it is language and culture! What I became apparent was the universal lack of EQ (Emotional Intelligence), psychological/behavioural cocktail of self- awareness and diverse rational sets (heuristic) of people from different backgrounds/ professions/ disciplines/ experiences polarised the negotiation exercises so eloquently it was as if we had designed the pronounced diversity observed.
In some cases the impact of low self-awareness, an essential competency of EQ created havoc and nearly derailed several parallel negotiation tracks. This was interesting as the teams recognised the need for all the usual planning, control, preparation, et all associated with conducting a good negotiation, yet when placed in a “live” environment defaulted to type and their heuristics and biases negated all the rational pre-work. Irrationality at its best!
So if the rule of thumb is that it takes twenty times of doing something different to break a habit, what does that say for the way in which we might coach and mentor people and teams to perform better in what is considered a core skill of the game we love so much, Negotiation?
We can debate for many centuries to come what we might consider to be the perfect negotiator is and who our heroes might be. Equally what unique set of circumstances and teaching got them to this revered position or status. However, in the meantime we have to get back to the fundamentals of how we set about, as a profession, of augmenting the skills and competencies of our teams to be better negotiators. Thankfully there is a growing awareness of the need for Behavioural Procurement¹ to play its part in enabling these competencies to be more fully understood, which moves us beyond EQ and into the field of psychology and decision sciences.
I have always believed that career professionals as opposed to someone who simply has a job in procurement should have charge and care of their own development and career and hence will doubtless read all there is to blog, tweet and share on various media. However, to get at the rest we rely heavily on procurement leadership to do the rest, and that is the majority! The trip hazard here will be “bounded rationality”; in other words we only know what we know and can only make decisions based on that. So do please spread the word……….
¹ Behavioural Procurement (BP) – Definition of: BP and the related field of BE study the effects of psychological, social, cognitive, and emotional factors on the commercial decisions of individuals and institutions and the consequences for competitive advantage, innovation and resource allocation. BP is primarily concerned with bounds of rationality of commercial agents and factors. BP models typically integrate insights from Behavioural Economics, psychology, decision sciences, social sciences, market theory, as well as implicitly nudging; in so doing these behavioural models cover a range of concepts methods and fields.