Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yesterday evening, after closing from work and on my way home, I met an old friend. He was so happy and elated to see me. We were chatting about life and what he is currently doing. A few minutes before he alighted from my car, he told me this “ Do you remember the message you shared with me on “how not to negotiate on an empty stomach”? It has kept me away from trouble and kept me focused. Thank you so much sir”. Such conversations always leave me happy for the rest of the day! For me, one of the things that excite me is the testimony of a changed life

Will you please permit me to share with you what I shared with this friend a few months ago? I have shared this in a few meetings /seminars and the result has been the same – people wish that I shared it earlier before they took some decisions in their lives. One Professor of Medicine came to me the 1st time I shared this and said “That was powerful. I was so blessed. I wish I heard this 1 week ago. I just finished a negotiation, and after hearing you, I am sure I could have done better”. Okay, let’s see what I am talking about

Every single second of the day, we are all involved in negotiations. You may not realize it, but you are involved in thousands of both formal and informal negotiations everyday. We are all product of negotiations. You wouldn’t be here in this world if there was no negotiation between your mum and your dad! If you got up from your bed today (and I bet you did), your were involved in a negotiation. You had a choice to continue in bed but you gave up this “pleasure” for something.
We are all product of negotiations. You wouldn’t be here in this world if there was no negotiation between your mum and your dad!
In negotiations, you give up what you have to get what you want. Someone has time and needs money. Another have money and needs time invested to do a work. Negotiation takes place when they each give what they have to get what they want.

Negotiations are very important because they determine your future. There are several negotiations taking place that has a direct effect on your future. Infact, the quality of your life tomorrow is dependent on the negotiations you are making today. While going through my notes earlier in the week, I came across a negotiation I read about and studied some years ago and the lessons I learnt from this account. This negotiation is documented in the holy creed. Can you spare a moment to read it?
“And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die; and what profit shall this birthright do to me?”
This verse is very rich. Here, a negotiation took place. Very informal negotiation. Right in the family compound. But with far reaching consequences. Esau, the older of the twins in question had gone hunting earlier in the day and returned home with nothing to show for it. Jacob on the other hand was at home and he had cooked a stew. Now, Esau returned home hungry. He needed food. He had the birthright. Jacob had food. He needed the birthright. So, a negotiation proposal was put forward by Jacob. What a proposal it was.

From this negotiation account, there are very vital lessons to learn

1. Do Not negotiate on an empty stomach

Avoid negotiating when you are hungry or tired. It put’s you at a disadvantage. Many great footballers had sold their future to their managers by signing contracts when they were “hungry”. For a young man coming from a club in Africa paying him $1000 a month, a juicy contract of $10,000 a month in Europe sounds too good to be true. Without studying the contract papers, he puts pen to paper immediately only to find out he had sold his future to his agent/manager. He negotiated on an empty stomach. He will realize later in future what a terrible negotiation he had made. A young girl who is “hungry” for a job negotiates away her virginity only to realize the colossal loss. What a shame.

2. Do Not Underestimate what you have

I said earlier on, that in negotiations, you give what you have to get what you want. In the story we are considering, Jacob simply underestimated the value of what he had. He had the birthright and the blessings associated with it. However, it meant nothing to him. His value system was wrong. According to him, stew was much more valuable than his birthright! Before you point accusing fingers at Esau, how is your value system? Are you underestimating what you’ve got? Do you value your skills and talents?

3. Do Not “overvalue” your problem

There is no problem that you currently have that is peculiar to you. The worst damage you can do to yourself when you are negotiating is to over value your problem. Look at what Esau said “ …I am about to die…” The truth is that that was far from the truth. He wasn’t about to die. Worse case, he had missed breakfast and lunch for that day. There is no way that can equal “near death”. He was overestimating his situation. No wonder he couldn’t negotiate down. Listen to some people talk about their problem/situation and you will know they are magnifying the problem. During negotiations, you will have the advantage when you learn not to overstate your problem

4. Negotiate Down

In the above negotiation, Esau didn’t do anything to negotiate Jacob’s offer down. He could have at least tried. If I were in his shoes, I would have tried negotiating for dinner for the rest of my life if I needed that food that badly. At least, dinner for the rest of his life in exchange for the birthright (though still a foolish choice) would have been a far better deal that just a one time stew. Beat the offer down. Negotiate down.
Winners do today what others won’t do, in order to have tomorrow what others won’t have.
5. Negotiate for the Future

Whatever you do, please negotiate for the future. Don’t only look out for what you will gain/lose in the immediate present. Look out for the future. What will be the consequence of the negotiation you are doing doing now on your future. Friends, I have since realized that the future is less expensive than the present. It makes a lot of sense to buy the future now. It pays to negotiate for the future now than later. A friend once told me how he spent his 1st salary of 70,000 naira. He invested 35,000 to buy a sophisticated phone and 35,000 to buy IBTC shares. He took a stock of both purchase 4 years after. The phone he bought was stolen 3 months after. The shares he bought is now worth over 250,000! Buy the future. Negotiate for the future. Winners do today what others won’t do, in order to have tomorrow what others won’t have.

In the negotiation we are looking at, it was like nothing happened afterwards. Negotiation completed. Both parties went their separate ways. However, the result of that negotiation that took place in the family compound had far reaching consequences. Esau sold his birthright….his blessings. He later sought for it with tears, but it was too late. He sold out his future while enjoying the present. Winners will rather forfeit a prefect present in order to create a perfect future. Do you want to be one?


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