General McChrystal and BP CEO Tony Hayward Forgot They Were Negotiating

Do you consider good negotiation skills to be important? If you don’t, you should. Do you realize that you’re always negotiating? Anytime you exchange information that gives insight into the way you think and/or the position you hold pertaining to situations, in reality you ‘are’ negotiating. General Stanley McChrystal, British Petroleum (BP) CEO Tony Hayward, and BP’s Chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg all forgot this valuable insight, and they paid the price for their forgetfulness.

You might not consider yourself as negotiating during a ‘normal exchange of information’, but the exchange of such information gives insight into your character and highlights your beliefs on stances that you’ve adopted, or might adopt on certain positions.

Consider statements recently made by McChrystal, Hayward, and Svanberg. You would think people with their level of experience and position would know, you’re always negotiating. Thus, McChrystal should have known better than to trust comments he made to a reporter, in thinking those comments would not be printed or find its way to ‘other’ outlets. Hayward should have thought about the ramifications of saying, “I want my life back”, after the accident caused by BP disrupted the lives of so many people in the United States. Svanberg should have given thought to how his statement of, “the little people” would cast him and BP as elitist, detached from those of less fortunes and the doubts people would have about BP being genuinely concerned about the oil spill. Even if you harbor such thoughts, you keep such views to yourself. Through your words and actions, you’re always negotiating.

In McChrystal’s case, since the Rolling Stone article in which he made his disparaging remarks has not “hit the stands”, a lot of the backlash that he experienced came about as the result of the perception his remarks cast. Those remarks painted a perception of him being a soldier that was ‘out of touch’ with the administration to which he serves.

From a negotiation perspective, there are times when it’s appropriate to allow people to draw their own conclusions from what you’ve said, without correcting them. In so doing, you still have to manage their perception of your thoughts, actions, and words. Once those thoughts transition into a negative sphere, in which they become detrimental to your position, it behooves you to correct their perception.

Even worse, when speaking, since people can ‘hear faster’ than one speaks, people will ‘grab’ sound bites. Thus, if you say something provocative, or something that is truly out of character with what’s considered the norm, you open yourself to possible retribution.

One thing that everyone should keep in mind is the fact that the more status you possess, the more media savvy you must become. In addition, one should remember that status is perceptional and thus one should always mind one’s tongue. One errant word can destroy a career, a future, a life. Therefore, as you go throughout your daily activities, remember, you’re always negotiating… and everything will be right with the world.

The Negotiation Tips Are…

· When negotiating, your spoken words express your attitudes. Watch the actions to which your words commit, in order to be framed in the most positive light.

· Like alarm clocks kill dreams, a lack of negotiation skills kill future opportunities. Be aware of the impact your words have on others. Become a better negotiator.

· If you use words appropriately during a negotiation, you won’t have to settle for what you get, you can get what you want.

Hey Good Looking – Are You a Presenter?

When we deliver a presentation, we need to make the best use of all of the tools that we have at our disposal. These tools include things such as hand gestures, using pauses, and vocal variety. All too often we forget that we have one more tool for us to use: our personal style.

Life is busy and all too often too many of us just don’t take the time to look our best when we venture out into public. The reasons for this are many – we don’t expect to meet anyone that we know, we don’t think that we’re going to be out for long, or maybe we just don’t care.

It turns out that this kind of thinking opens all sorts of doors for us as presenters. If we take the time to look our best then we’ll end up being the best looking person in the room. What this means is that everyone will be looking at us. If they are already looking at us, then we’ve got half of our task taken care of!

Carmine Gallo is a communications coach who has spent a lot of time thinking about this topic. Here are some of his suggestions that will help you use this tool to it’s fullest extent:

  • Keep The Bling To A Minimum: Over time we all build up a collection of accessories. Women have a collection of flashy necklaces and too-big earrings. Men have (also) too flashy necklaces, tie holders, bracelets, etc. Remember that accessories are designed to add value to your look – not to distract from the overall package. The rule is to keep it simple and suitable for your outfit.
  • Get Some Culture: This should be something that your research for any presentation reveals to you. A suit is always appropriate – except when it’s not. Make sure that you dress in a way that matches the event or the culture of your audience. Have your dress match the expectations of your audience.
  • Smile For The Camera: As long as you are going to the effort of getting all gussied up for your big presentation, take the time to make sure that all of the photographs that are taken of you show how good you look. We can never have enough photos of ourselves when we are looking our bests. Find a professional photographer and get a formal picture taken of yourself – this will be invaluable to you later on.

All too often we end up spending all of our time researching what we want to say, how we want to say it, and what we want our audience to be motivated to do once we are done talking.

If we take the time to plan out how we are going to look for our next presentation then we’ll be ahead of the game before we even show up. Sometimes just taking the time to look at ourselves in the mirror before we head out the door can do wonders for making our presentation that more effective…!

5 Tips for Selecting a Presentation Skills Workshop

If you are interested in improving your presentation skills, one route is the workshop. You would be amazed at the transformation possible; however, it is important to understand that not all workshops are alike. In this article, I list the 5 things you should look for if you are serious about improving your skills in public speaking and having several opportunities to present your material in front of an audience.

    1. Look for a course in which you will be video-recorded. Video-recording is one of the best tools for seeing and hearing yourself in action. Too often, how we think we look and sound and how we really look and sound are not the same thing. Video tells a lot more truth about you than any other medium. While it may seem daunting at first, you should most definitely take advantage of this tool.
    2. Check to see that the class size is limited to 10 to 12 participants maximum. Very small groups are most important in a practical course such as this. Yes, sitting amongst an audience of 250 is fine if you are primarily listening to speakers, but in this case, size of group and recording potential really do matter. The larger group, the less individual attention. Larger groups also mean less participation by each individual.
    3. Will the course be covering the personal introduction? As a people, our personal introduction skills often take on the quality of a Valley Girl. As simple as it may seem, the personal intro is the most overlooked of the various forms of presentation. If you can deliver a dynamic summary about you and/or your business, you will find all other aspects of public speaking that much easier.
    4. While many courses cover the informative or persuasive presentation, check to see if the impromptu is being offered. As frightening as this may sound, the impromptu is an excellent exercise, teaching you to think on your feet: having that experience will serve you well in your future, not only when addressing an audience but when you are speaking extemporaneously to prospective clients, employers, employees, and your colleagues.
    5. How will the course handle your nervousness? If they plan to tell you to stare at something on the wall or look above the heads of your listeners, beware! This is not the advice you should be seeking. Nor is imagining your audience sitting in their underwear a comforting thought for most people! Find out exactly how they plan to deal with your nervousness. While it may be man’s greatest fear, it need not be yours if you learn the best ways of dealing with it!

In my next article, I will be discussing 5 Tips for Selecting a Voice & Presentation Skills Workshop.