“Leader Stop VUCA This Is Easily A Better Way To Handle Negotiation” – Negotiation Tip of the Week

“Sometimes, when self-assured certainty peers into a negotiation mirror, uncertainty stares back.” –Greg Williams, The Master Negotiator & Body Language Expert

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“Leader Stop VUCA

This Is Easily A Better Way To Handle Negotiation”

Any leader can become mired during negotiation in a VUCA environment (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity). And that is where, in most cases, most leaders find themselves in their talks, in a negotiation fought by the perils of VUCA. Thus, as leaders navigate the shifting environments of this phenomenon, they must become more adept at preparing for it by increasing their readiness to engage in it.

This article offers insights about how you, as a leader, can handle negotiations more adeptly and stop the travails that VUCA can instill in the negotiation process. Accordingly, adopting the following information will make you a more skilled leader when addressing talks that contain components that might otherwise derail your discussions.

VUCA’s Challenge

To fully understand the importance of controlling VUCA circumstances, consider the following illustrations that can alter your negotiation flow:

Volatility – Negotiator becomes or feigns becoming irate to invoke chaos into the talks to either shift the mindset from important topics or foster new ones

Uncertainty – Better decision-making can become more cumbersome due to incomplete or unreliable information, new entrants into the negotiation, fluctuating priorities, unwanted dynamics that influence the talks

Complexity – Altering degrees of personality types of those at the negotiation table and the influence cast on them by stakeholders not present

Ambiguity – Any host of occurrences that happen due to intentional or unintentional implementation of tactics aligned or unaligned with planned or unplanned strategies, lack of clear intent per direction in which to proceed

Such factors will influence the flow of negotiations, which can move the talks toward an impasse or an uncontrollable manner that disadvantages a leader’s negotiation efforts. But, by considering how a leader will address VUCA before negotiations, they can effectively manage and control such challenges and direct the talks towards a better and more substantial outcome.

Mental Preparation For VUCA Negotiations

By now, you know there can be VUCA challenges in a negotiation. So, how might a leader prepare mentally to address such circumstances? They must adopt a proactive position versus a reactive one. And that can be accomplished by:

1. Becoming comfortable with VUCA. Since it can be prevalent in any negotiation, leaders can prepare their mindset to embrace challenges rather than repudiate them. The mind shift will set the tone for better negotiations.

2. A leader can also become more accepting of VUCA’s negotiation uncertainty by learning to better adapt to situational changes. That might entail being directive or offering indirect solutions based on the occurrences of the environment. By becoming more conscious of such situations, leaders will have more significant opportunities to practice their skill-building efforts.  

3. Leaders can also emphasize diversity inclusion in their planning and thought preparation to deal with VUCA in negotiations. The accruing benefits will stem from having different perspectives on what might occur in the talks from a broader background.

Navigating More Effectively Through VUCA Negotiations

Leaders can take several vital steps to lessen VUCA’s effect on negotiations:

1. Create a plan outlining the objectives of the leader’s goals that everyone on the leader’s team buys into. The absence of complete buy-in by team members could lay the ground for future team dissonance.

2. Employ out-of-the-box thinking. Leaders should consider the unthinkable when assessing how VUCA might interrupt negotiations. And the more they do this, the more likely they will uncover thoughts that may lead to what would have otherwise been got-ya actions.

3. Get ahead of the curve. During negotiations, be mindful of the path the negotiation is taking. Attempt to envision five to seven steps ahead of the opposition’s moves. While a leader may have laid a plan to offset unwanted opposition detours, maintaining foresight of actual versus anticipated actions will allow the leader more leeway for adjustments.  

By keeping these and other ideas in mind to decrease the probability of VUCA disrupting a leader’s negotiation efforts, the leader will increase their chances for positive outcomes while reducing the likelihood of chaos. 

The Importance Of Reading Body Language During Negotiation

Reading body language during negotiation is essential for the leader who wants to enhance their opportunities for a better outcome while decreasing the potential hazardous effects that VUCA can have on the talks. That is why I always emphasize observing nonverbal signals and behavior during such proceedings. A leader will gain invaluable insights by doing so.

For example, a leader might observe when someone leans away or forward from or to the negotiation table. While that act may be small in gesture, it can speak voluminously per the thoughts in the person’s mind displaying it.

The folding of arms is another sign to observe. While this gesture may be due to someone seeking comfort, the timing of when they exhibit it is worth noting. Our bodies always seek comfort, and when it is not in that state, it emits actions to regain that condition. Thus, by observing when people emit gestures, leaders can glimpse their inner thoughts. That can lead leaders to gain more favorable responses and outcomes.


When leaders incorporate the preceding advice of outlined information into their negotiation plans, the effects of VUCA will diminish. And while the travels of VUCA will never completely disappear, leaders will become better prepared to negotiate in such environments, which will net more significant outcomes. And everything will be right with the world.

Remember, you’re always negotiating!

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After reading this article, what are you thinking? I’d like to know. Reach me at Greg@TheMasterNegotiator.com

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