you at your most creative?
It is a question I often ask in the classroom when I am running
negotiation skills development classes.
Two retorts I often hear are: “Why?” (people are reluctant to
answer unless they know why I want to know, cynical bunch) or “When
I am under extreme pressure.”
Let’s look at these one by one.
Why, first of all. If we look at negotiation as a method of
resolving conflict, which it is, and of potentially sharing value,
which again it is, it is useful to have a think about how the two
parties in conflict can create more value prior to the inevitable
discussion about how the value is shared. Looking at a negotiation
as a simple haggle about dividing up what is currently available is
incredibly transactional, and whilst this may sometimes be the way
we resolve differences it is rarely the best in long term symbiotic
For us to build value we have to look beyond the obvious and
figure out creative solutions to both value creation and value
differentiation. Think in terms of how the other side may value an
additional movement from us rather than its cost and you will be
moving in the right direction. Creativity is therefore not just a
nice to have, it is business critical.
The other answer i.e. when people say “when under extreme
pressure”, I have to say I am not sure that I believe them. Not
sure, because I know that it is the rare individual who becomes
capable under pressure, Ayrton Senna the racing driver apparently
had a reduction in his heart rate as his speed increased, but he
was a world champion, so a bit of an outlier.
Most people under pressure become focused and narrow in outlook.
Hardly good for creative thinking.
In the 70’s there was a big thing about floatation tanks.
Floatation tanks are dark, soundproof pods in which people float
in warm water for hours at a time. They have been a niche interest
of various new-age and hippy communities for decades, but in recent
years the number of people using them in the UK has grown.
Studies have suggested that floating - referred to as Restricted
Environmental Stimulation Therapy - could be useful in treating
stress and anxiety-related conditions such as post-traumatic stress
disorder. In Sweden, where patients can be referred to a float tank
center by their GP or employer, there are more tanks per person
than anywhere else in the world.
They are also used by creative types in all kinds of industries
from movie making to tattoo artists.
So the next time you are about to enter a difficult series of
negotiations look for a float tank.
Or have a quiet thoughtful walk.