Mindreading as a Negotiation Strategy

When we're asking for something we want, like a toilet seat in the down position, or a day completely to ourselves on the weekend, or a seat at the table to brainstorm a new project at work, sometimes we resort to mind reading to come in sideways about what we want.

The conversation goes like this:

A: I know you already have your team assembled, and I know you prefer to work with engineers initially, but I'd like to talk about the first meeting for the new project startup.

B: Sure.

A: You're probably thinking I'm a little late to ask to be included, but I really think you're missing a valuable voice in the discussion by not having anyone from marketing at the table.

B: What makes you think we're not? We're just getting started putting the team together.

A: Oh, I didn't know that. I'm really intrigued by the project. What are your needs?

Good question, Ms. A. Good Save...

Most of us are doing our best to figure out how play strong in the disrupt-to-innovate 21st Century. Go easy on yourself--it wasn't easy growing up in the industrial revolution. We all learned that if we were going to raise our hand in school, we better know the answer, or laughter and derision would certainly follow. The result? Our curiosity gene got flattened. To rekindle our curiosity we have to shed our old school habit of knowing absolutely everything even when we don't know much of anything.

In the place of judgment and assumption (and even our intuition) we can practice cultivating a culture of curiosity by using the crown jewel of collaborative negotiation: Diagnostic Questions. Open-ended and full of possibility, they will get you past the word no, through stalled contract negotiations, stonewalling, yelling and confusion, and into problem solving.