“The first thought I had was, am I going to die?” Those were the words a lady recounted to her friend. She was referring to a scary situation she feared would become a #crisis. It happened when she was at a bank and two men walked in. They hollered, “this is a stick-up!”
Hopefully, you’ve never had such an experience. But if one were to occur, what would you do? I know that depends on the specific situation and circumstances. But what do you think your initial thoughts might be? If you’re considering that, you’re doing what you should do to confront a potential crisis – prepare for it ahead of time.
This article will help you think about how to prepare for such occurrences if one should befall you.
When you’re threatened, your body goes into a fight or flight response. During that time, you make snap judgments about the action you’ll take. Upon hindsight, those actions may not be rational.
In a potential crisis, to limit irrational actions consider how you might act/react before entering them. You might note exit doors, hiding places, and resources that can aid you. Some of the resources might be other people that share your plight. Be strategic in your thoughts and planning.
The more prepared you are for a crisis, the better your response will be. And that could turn out to be a lifesaver.
Fight, Flight, Freeze:
When you’re threatened, you begin an evaluation process to assess the threat and the best course of action to take. The problem is, the clock doesn’t stop ticking during that time. You can’t call a timeout. And the situation could escalate during your deliberations.
Most people are aware of the fight or flight response. It occurs when we become fearful. But there’s another possible response to consider. It’s called the freeze response. It’s somewhat like the ‘shelter in place’ command. During that time, you limit your movement. That’s an attempt to lessen attention to yourself. It’ll limit your possible exposure and harm. Note the differences between the ‘shelter in place’ and freeze response. In the latter, you make no movement at all.
Never overlook the potential usage of the freeze response. It’s another tool that could be your lifesaver. Plan for the possibility of its use. If you know through calculations when it might be most applicable, you’ll be more flexible in the actions you adopt … and everything will be right with the world.
What does this have to do with negotiations?
Very seldom does a negotiation escape some form of crisis. They may be small or large depending on what’s at stake. But nevertheless, if they create trauma for you or the other negotiator, you’ll seek a plausible solution to them. Thus, during your planning stage of the negotiation, consider the actions you’ll adopt to confront troublesome situations. You should also consider what might cause them to escalate and how you’ll defuse them.
A crisis in a negotiation usually evolves over time – it doesn’t happen suddenly. Therefore, you can see it coming. When you sense a crisis is gathering strength, address it with a prepared action. That action might consist of the fight, flight, or freeze response. That means you’d dig in your heels (fight), choose to end the negotiation – or call a timeout (flight or freeze), or do nothing (freeze). You’d adopt a ‘freeze state’ to see what the other negotiator might do from that point.
In any negotiation, the options you adopt to address situations determine the flow and outcome of the negotiation. A crisis is the greatest threat to a successful negotiation outcome. It can derail a negotiation. Thus, the better prepared you are to address it, the greater control you’ll have over and during the negotiation.
“Beware Silly Provocations – How To Hack Crisis Negotiations“
She wanted everyone to know that she was upset. Her language was foul, loud, and silly. She presented it as a provocation to induce hot drama. Its delivery occurred in a cool and calculated manner with the intent of inciting a crisis. One might think that occurred during a nasty negotiation – it happened in a small bank branch. And the occurrence was the pronouncements of a customer who at first demeaned a bank teller and then the branch manager.
In a negotiation, there are ways to hack situations such as what occurred with the foul silly-mouth customer. The following are a few of those hacks.
The individual in the bank repeatedly complained aloud about the possibility of her ‘personnel’ information being overheard by other customers – note that she meant her personal information – she claimed the teller asked for it to determine her identity. To the customer, that was an offense.
Hack: When dealing with people that appear to lack lucidity, assess if their demeanor is an act. Based on your assessment, be logical or illogical with them. Then, note the change in their demeanor. If they begin to use logic to strengthen their position, use logic in addressing them further. If they’re illogical, ask what they would do if they were in your position with the guidelines you’re working with. Either way, they’ll give you the solution to the problem. Thank them for it. And if it’s to your benefit, use it. If it’s not, excuse them or yourself from the surroundings.
Had the customer been in a different environment (e.g. church) and she’d not received the outcome sought, her demeanor more than likely would have been different. Thus, always consider the environment that one is in when they project certain conducts. And question if it would be the same if not in that setting.
In a negotiation, always consider the type of individual you’re dealing with. Evaluate to what degree she’s educated, a bully, embarrasses easily, or someone that never adopts shame for an action. That insight will give you a measure of understanding as to what type of personality you’re dealing with. That, in turn, will give you clues to how best to deal with that individual.
Educated – Everything being equal, people with higher levels of education can be dealt with at higher levels of reasoning.
Hack: Thus, if negotiating with someone of this ilk, try using logic to reason with them. They may not succumb to your behests. But you’ll have a greater chance of calming them before they become more irrational acting.
Bully – People with bully tendencies seek attention. They want to be perceived as someone that demands respect – in their mind they’re someone that others should not trifle with. Some negotiators will use bullying as a tactic – they’ll do so to determine how far they can push you.
Hack: If you sense someone’s attempting to use provocation as a bullying tool, stand your ground – act bravely! If you give in, they’ll push you harder and further.
Embarrassment – The person that embarrasses easily is on the opposite coin of the person that never adopts shame for her actions. The shameless person will attempt to project her antics to burrow into your psyche. By doing so, she assumes she’ll enhance the probability that you’ll acquiesce to her demands.
Hack 1: For the shameless person, don’t let her tactics effect you. Suggest aloud that you’re aware of her attempts – do so boldly! Then note to what degree she escalates or de-escalates the situation. If she escalates, she may be testing your resolve to determine its validity. What you do next will impact the rest of your interactions – choose wisely between upping your stance again or deflating it. If she de-escalates, she will have given you control. Make haste with it while softening your behavior as her reward.
Hack 2: For the person that embarrasses easily, temper her antics by raising the stakes – deal with her sternly but in degrees. She doesn’t want others judging her harshly. Thus, she won’t escalate a situation that causes her embarrassment – therein lies her vulnerability. Be cautious about appearing to take advantage of her. Anyone can become irrational when pushed too hard. That’ll make them less predictable, which could make a negotiation more difficult.
Provocations, silly or not, can occur in any negotiation. Controlled provocations are tools that good negotiators employ as a tactic. Having greater insight into hacking their efforts will prevent you from falling into their traps, while agilely avoiding hidden crises … and everything will be right with the world.