The Use of Hypnosis in Negotiation.
As a hypnotherapist who, over 25 years ago, moved into the area of negotiation & Communication , I have become more and more aware that most negotiators tend to focus almost exclusively on their own point of view; their own perception of the problem and their own worries rather than take into account the point of view, perception & worries of the other party which, once understood, can then be used in the development of a successful outcome to the negotiation for both parties which maximises gains for both while making sure that nothing is “left on the table” unused. Having taken a range of negotiation courses over the years, it appears that most negotiation training & trainers focus on a range of techniques and skills that emphasise their own role in the negotiation and not that of the other side. This lack of attention to the other side often leads to outcomes that are “acceptable” but are not “Outstanding”. The difference between an “acceptable” outcome and and “Outstanding” one is that an “acceptable outcome always leaves you feeling frustrated; as if you could have done better; angry with yourself or the other party. An “outstanding” outcome is one where you know that you have gotten the best result possible; you have expanded the pie and divided it fairly and look forward to the next challenge. One technique that is often “known”, but little used is that of “Role Reversal”. In this activity, a person involved in the problem and who also knows the principal person involved in the negotiation on the other side is asked to put himself into the shoes of this other person and “imagine / visualize” how he perceives the problem. While the underlying concept is undoubtedly valid, a detailed methodology has been missing. I would therefore like to propose the following system which I have used over many years with great success. Pre-hypnosis Preparation: Step 1: ALWAYS ask for a volunteer for this activity. It is vital that this person trusts the hypnotist / negotiator and will freely participate in this activity. If possible, do a “Degree of suggestibility” activity such as the “Sticky hands” or the “Book & Balloon” tests which only take 5-10 minutes each. Step 2: Then, with this person, clearly identify the person who is required to make the final decision in the negotiation. The person must be known by name and it is vital that the person chosen previously actually knows the person in question. Step 3: Formulate the question that you think he thinks he (The person in the other organization) is being asked as a yes/no question: E.g., Should I accept the offer of XYZ company? Should I accept the change of condition proposed by ABC company? Step 4: Draw the basic outline shown below onto a flipchart (without filling in any information). Write the name of the person concerned and the question that he thinks he is being asked into the appropriate spaces on the flipchart. Step 5: Put two chairs side-by-side about 3 – 4 meters in front of the flipchart. Step 6: Select a person to act as “scribe” during the exercise. Step 7: Invite the person who is going to act as our source to sit on one of the chairs Hypnosis stage: Thank the subject for allowing us to use his knowledge of the other person to help find a successful outcome to the negotiation. Ask the subject if he is willing to lend us his subconscious mind in this activity. Stand behind the subject and tell him to relax, close his eyes, breathe deeply and start to enjoy the experience that he/she is going to have. Tell him that any other noises he/she hears around him are only going to increase the pleasure. And that the only voice that is important to him is that of the speaker (The hypnotist). Then, ask him/her to imagine the person in question standing in front of them. Allow them a few seconds to visualize the person and then ask the subject what the person is like: Tall, short, fat, thin, young, old, etc. Then ask how he/she is dressed. Allow the subject time to answer. Then ask the subject what else is interesting or noticeable about the person. Wait a few seconds and then congratulate the client on his powers of observation. Keep using verbal “positive reinforcement” (great!, excellent!, That’s right!, etc.) during the rest of the session. Tell the subject that the person in front of them is now starting to walk slowly towards them. He is smiling and obviously happy to see the subject. After a few seconds, tell the subject that the other person is now going to sit in the empty chair beside them. Wait for a few seconds and tell the subject he/she is now sitting there and the subject call feel the pressure of the other person’s arm against their arm, the pressure of the other person’s thigh against their thigh, etc., and it is quite pleasurable and an interesting sensation. Allow the subject a few seconds to enjoy the new sensations and pleasure and then tell him/her that they are going to undergo an even more interesting experience. The subject is going to notice that the other person’s body is going to slowly start to meld with theirs. They will become aware that slowly the other person is joining them in their body and it is a strange and wonderful experience. It is at this stage that you start to see physical signs of trance: flaccid facial muscles, drooping head, etc. Tell the subject that you want to talk to … (use the name of the other person). Thank the subject by name and then say that you would like to speak to the other person sharing their mind and experiences. Ask the other person what their name is. The reply should be the name of the other person. Ask the person how old they are, what their job is, how long they have worked in the company, etc., finally leading the subject to talk about the relationship with the “other” company, the other person and & this particular negotiation. The Currently Perceived Choice chart is based on the graphic of the same name (c) Harvard University, Program on Negotiation, Boston, USA. 1985. Start asking the subject what he feels the negative consequences of saying “yes” to the proposal would be. At this time the “scribe” starts writing down the responses in the appropriate column. It is important to use visual, auditive and kinesthetic questions during this stage: – Do you see any negative elements in saying yes to the proposal? (visual) – What negative elements can you identify? (auditive) – What do you feel would be the negative elements in saying yes? (Kinesthetic) Do not rush the subject or force-feed answers. We have discovered that the subject often needs time to encounter the answer. When you feel that you have obtained all the data available, proceed to the next step. Continue with the lower left hand column. “However, the favourable consequences would be…” Once you feel that a sufficient amount of information is obtained, cover up the left-hand side of the sheet with paper so that the subject can not see it and start on the right-hand column. Continue as for the left-hand column. The whole activity can take up to one hour. Once you have finished this exercise. Thank the client for helping you by being frank & honest during the experience. Tell the “visitor” that you appreciate their cooperation and it is now time for him/her to leave. Tell the “visitor to gradually slide out of their body onto the chair beside them. A few seconds later, tell the client that the “visitor” has now left them and that they are free to return to work with us whenever they want to. If the client seems to want to stay in the trance (and it does happen!), tell him/her that they will return upon the count of three: One…. Two….Three. It is quite usual for the client to ask what has happened and to express surprise that so much time has passed during the exercise. It is also common for the client to be amazed at the quantity and quality of the information obtained. Once the exercise has been done, it is necessary to return to the C.P.C. sheet and try to find answers or solutions corresponding to the elements identified and written on the flipchart in the quadrant “Negative Consequences” of say “YES” in the upper left-hand quadrant among the elements written in the lower, right-hand quadrant “Negative Consequences of saying “NO”. Using the data given in the example of the C.P.C.: E.g. If I say “yes”, we have to give mores space in the shop to this supplier. However, If I say “no”, it could destroy the relations with this supplier. It is also possible that he could treat my competitors better than me. Then do the same with the other two quadrants: The favourable consequences of saying “no” linked to the favourable consequences of saying “yes”: e.g. If I say “no”, I show my strength. However, I will not receive more publicity from them. I could also lose competitive advantages over my competitors. NOTE: There does not have to be a one-to-one link between items. One item in a quadrant might apply to 1, 2 or all of the elements in the other quadrant. What you do with the data obtained depends on the case. You could use it directly with the client.: E.g. “Peter, we suppose that you think that if you say “yes” to our proposal, you would have to give us more space in your shop. However, if you say “no” we would have to renegotiate the number of special offers and promotions we conduct each year.” You could also use it to (re)evaluate your negotiation strategy, arguments, techniques or tactics. As in any communication event, the more you know about how the other person thinks, feels or perceives the situation, the more elegant you can become in your communication. I frequently use this activity with “difficult” negotiations or whenever the process is stuck or blocked. Even if you are not a hypnotist, TRY IT: if you are confident, it should work. It is a great addition to your professional toolbox. Please feel free to visit our bilingual (English & Spanish) web page: http://www.brownlee-associates.com