Mastering Mindful Negotiation with Gaetan Pellerin
Mark: Welcome to the Negotiations Ninja podcast, where we develop and deliver the most engaging negotiation content and training in the world. We host negotiation experts, business people, and entrepreneurs, and discuss what works, what doesn't work and how we can improve our negotiation skills. Hey Negotiations Ninja listeners, you've got Mark here. Welcome to the show. Our guest is Gaetan Pellerin. He is the author of a recent book that he just released on all about Mindful NEGOtiation. Oftentimes we talk about planning and preparation and strategy and tactics, but a lot of the strength and ability that you have in negotiations comes from being mindful in your negotiations. Not a lot of people talk about this, and we have a fantastic conversation talking about what mindful negotiation is, why people should care and all that kind of stuff, and about the methodology that you could use to become more mindful. It's a fantastic conversation. I really enjoyed it. I think you will as well, enjoy. Hello, Gaetan. How are you?
Gaetan Pellerin: I'm very good, Mark. Thank you. How are you?
Mark: I'm very well. Thank you so much for being here with me today. I really appreciate it.
Gaetan Pellerin: Yeah, that's my pleasure. I'm excited to be part of your guests list.
Mark: Yes. Well, I'm excited for this conversation because there's so many times that we let our ego get in the way of our negotiations and we're not mindful of our negotiations, and that's what our conversation is going to be all about today. But before we get into that conversation, tell the listeners a bit about who you are and what you do.
Gaetan Pellerin: Thank you, Mark. So I'm an experienced sales and marketing executive. I have 30 years of global experience in negotiation, sales management. I negotiated multi- million dollar deals in Japan, China, Thailand, Europe, and North America. The last 11 years, I've been in negotiation consultant for Scotwork, North America, and also the executive coach. So really focusing on people and helping them to become better. Funny, I'm always being motivated by understanding what's the drive behind each of us. Why do we behave the way we behave? Emotion, fear, desires. I just love helping people to get better at what they're doing, helping them to be more confident. And that passion for development tag with negotiation brought me to write the book called Mindful NEGOtiation: Becoming More Aware in the Moment, Conquering Your Ego and Getting Everyone What They Really Want. And it's really about the relationship between mindfulness and then negotiation situation where our ego can be triggered. I'm originally from Montreal. I now live in Connecticut with my wife and stepson. I have two grown up boys that lives in Montreal. And when I'm not busy helping people, I hike, mountain bike or cooks with a good glass of wine. And I'm always fascinated by what can I learn from the next book on my bookshelf?
Mark: Yeah, fantastic. And I am excited to talk about this because I feel like, and I've done this myself, we let our egos get in the way of negotiation. So why don't we start with sort of a broad open- ended question? What do you mean by mindful negotiation and what is mindful negotiation?
Gaetan Pellerin: Yeah, this is a great question. There's a lot of book on mindfulness, a ton of book on negotiation, but really not so much that brings both together, right? And before I go there, let me give you a bit of history about myself because you opened the door with ego. I want to make sure the audience understand what it is. So since I was a young adult, I wanted to be seen. I wanted to be recognized, be appreciated. I compared myself with others all the time. I wanted to be better than them. Obviously, I didn't want to upset anybody because that was how I was brought up. My dream job was becoming a VP global sale. After five promotion in three years, I finally got my dream job. After a while however, I was impatient and unhappy. So funny, right? I wanted to have something and I was not happy. In 2010, I was let go in part of a reorg. I had to pause my life and ask myself, why am I so dissatisfied? I got everything I wanted. So I turned several management job in sales. I didn't know what to do next, but I knew what I didn't want to do. I started a one- year executive coaching and I started at same time becoming a negotiation consultant. So interesting, absorbing people, doing the negotiation, watching them, observing their reaction. And in the last 10 years I also joined a personal development group that focus on mindfulness and how to understand why are we behaving the way we behave today? Why are we reacting? Why are we have so many triggers? And ego is our unconscious structure, Mark, that instinctively reacts to external events. So back in the days when men were hunting animals, it was really useful when our existence was between eating and being eaten. So our survival instinct was very important. Our survival instinct, our ego, it's our little voice in our head that compared us to others, right? So it want us to prove ourselves, to be better, to be recognized, to be liked. And ego was coming from the first three years of our existence, heavily be influenced by family, the dynamic with our parent, the church, the community, et cetera, et cetera. So every time we do something today, our ego is looking at our work past and trying to figure out how to respond very quickly. For example, if I was stressed to do this and go and try to prove myself that I'm good or better or competent, maybe that would come from my ego just to prove myself. So now let's go back to the negotiation question, right? So we believe negotiation it's about skills and structure and methodology. This is all good, but we're really missing one key element here, and it's the ability to manage our emotion. Every time we negotiate, emotion comes out of hiding. We're afraid we might lose a deal. We don't want to be intimidated by the other person. We are insecure about our own sense of competency or incompetency. We need help, but we're afraid of ask for it. Every time we sit down at a negotiation for our ego, it's almost like we want to win. It's a survival. We want something. And normally it means we win, they lose. And that's why in my book title, I've highlighted the word ego part of negotiation, right? Because you said it earlier, sometime you let your ego control, but this is every structure. All of us, we have that structure. The language of ego is emotion. And when we are emotional, we don't have a good judgment. We don't have clarity. Sometimes we're scared to stand up and speak up our needs. And when we're emotional, we all make bad decisions. If you know people that got through a divorce, it's really painful. There's nothing rational. We just want to hurt the other party, and that's it. When we negotiate, we negotiate with other people that are also emotional. So at the end of the day, negotiation is about managing emotions, ours and theirs in real time. Even if we want to stay rationale, the minute the negotiation doesn't go as planned, the minute something happen, we are losing our ability to get clarity. So from that perspective, people are not good managing their own emotion and the try to drive the negotiation from a rational and logic perspective. And honestly, it doesn't work well. So why should we care, right? You asked me, what's the definition of mindfulness negotiation? Well, most people think negotiation, it's very easy. Oh yeah, fine, I can negotiate that. It's not a problem, until people sit at a table and they have to do it. They think they can be in control until it doesn't go as planned. We want to demonstrate our own power by controlling others. Most of us, we want to win and we want to be right. We enter negotiation with our survival instinct trigger. So the secret here is to be able to handle our emotion before they control us. And mindfulness is probably the best way to do that. So what is mindfulness, you ask? Mindfulness is focusing our attention in a compassionate way and nonjudgmental way to what's going on inside of us. We've been told in business, oh, don't be emotional, don't do this. But emotions are there. Our chest is tightening, our jaw is tightening, blood pressure is going to the roof. It's all there, but we don't pay attention to that. So mindfulness, Mark, is being able to slow down, being aware and curious, why am I angry this morning? Why am I scared? Do I feel I have no power, right? And it's all our little voice in our head telling us that you should be scared of that. Mindfulness, it's not the same way as thinking about something. It's really about focusing our attention to our inner world. Ego is a fast reacting, unconscious structure. Mindfulness, slow down the time and ask us, is that true what's happening? Is that true that I'm scared? Who said that we should be scared? And mindfulness is just taking the situation for what it is. We are observing. I'm scared or I don't care about the other person, right? So it helps maintain clarity under stress. It allows us to think a little bit more rationally while in the moment experiencing emotion. And when we are in the moment, like other people call that in the zone, it allows us to pivot. It allows us to do the best and blocking the external world to allow us to be a better negotiator.
Mark: Hey listeners, I want to tell you about another company that I run called Content Callout. It is a thought leadership brand marketing company. Now, what does that mean? It means that we take you as an executive or entrepreneur, a leader of a small or medium sized business and we turn you into a thought leader online. We take your personal brand and we amp it up to 11 so that you can lead with confidence knowing that people will recognize you, recognize your brand and recognize your business because of the thought leadership approach that you've taken on social media through content creation and content distribution, as well as engaging with all of your following online. How do you get involved in this? Easy, easy, easy. Just go to contentcallout. com/ getstarted. And you will see there three different options that will allow you to take your thought leadership brand for yourself and for your business to the next level. We are super excited to talk to you about this. We've seen some massive growth with the businesses that we've been working with. Very, very exciting time for us. Look at that. We appreciate it. Now back to your show. Sometimes when you're in a negotiation and you're wrapped up in the emotion of the negotiation, there's so much going on. You're feeling so much at the same time. It's hard to slow down and think about and go into that observation mode of, why do I feel this way? Or I've noticed that I feel this way. I wonder if it's a result of this. What I find is challenging is that slow down process, that observation process, put like almost stepping back from my negotiation and observing from the external inside. Do you have any methods about how to look at it?
Gaetan Pellerin: Yeah, thank you for asking that question because you're right. Mindfulness, it's not a big deal, but how to use mindfulness, how to think to be mindful is kind of a different story, right? People have a misconception about mindfulness. They think I have to meditate for six hour. No, it's not about that. It's really about focusing about what's going on inside of us. And in my work Mark, I developed a very simple but innovative model that can allow us to use mindfulness not only to be aware, but to try to understand. I called it C for you. It's a play on words, C, four Cs, for you. Those are the four pillars of mindfulness. So C1, it's called connection with ourselves. It's just to, okay, let's breathe here. Let's focus, what's going on inside of us? So just changing the focus from outward to inward and really recognize that, oh, okay, I'm tense. I'm angry. I'm in fear or I'm disappointed, right? So this is a first step just to kind of calming down our mind. The second C it's called curiosity, being curious about our inner experience, right? Nothing here to solve, why am I feeling this way or not guessing? And there was nothing even in objective. Is just to be curious, right? You said that I'm observing that I'm like that. I feel like I'm going to explode. I feel like this is the end of the world. And in my book, I have a couple of questions to help the reader to figure out why do I feel this way? Who is that the emotion belongs to? Is that my mom told me that, my dad when I was young? Is that true that I have no power? And when I consult with my customer, I ask them to talk to me like they would talk to their customer or their procurement people or their salespeople. And talking to me, they don't have the fear. So what's really interesting when I practice with people that they can deliver a bad news or have a hard conversation with me as a practice run because they don't connect with fear. So, now it's the ability to see if I connect with fear, I behave this way, but what if I let go fear and I'm confident in the moment? That brings me to C3, which is compassion. Sometime we feel we're not skilled. Sometime we feel like, oh man, I'm not going to be able to do it. We're judging ourselves Mark for whatever comes up. And when we judge ourselves, it's really hard to go beyond what's there. I'm judging myself because I'm not good in communication, or I'm afraid to speak in public. Okay, great. But judging ourselves, it's not going to help us to be better at what we want to do, right? So compassion for me, it's a really big cornerstone of the process. And C4 is change or choice. I'm angry. Okay, can I decide to not be angry? Can I decide to let go? Can I decide that the procurement people in front of me, they think they have all the power they want to intimidate me? Could I change my behavior? Could I be more in the moment? So really helping the person with a different way of behaving that it's not instinctual reaction that we can have almost unconscious.
Mark: I love this. Great methodology. So often in negotiation, even if you get people coach to a certain level of preparation, they've done their strategy. They know what they need and want. They've thought about the counterparties needs and wants. They're not planning for the emotion. I find that a lot of people don't plan for what might trigger them or what might cause them to go off the rails or get them angry or get them frustrated. They don't think about what might pop up. And so they're not ready for it when it does happen. I love your methodology because even if you're not ready for it, as long as you understand the methodology and you practice the methodology, you can still manage through it.
Gaetan Pellerin: Yes. And it's interesting Mark what you're saying because people don't plan because our little voice tells us we're good. We got it, right? So our ego fine tunes its message to make us look good. I don't want to prepare. A lot of people don't even spend time to prepare. They tell me, I have no time. But why do we believe that we don't need to prepare? Why do we believe that? It's all our ego tricking us into believing that we're better than we actually are. And sometime people feel the other way around. I'm scared to go to a negotiation, so I don't want to prepare. I don't want to look that fear in the face. So it's interesting the spin you bring because yes, people sometime don't learn. But it's our little voice telling us you're good. You don't need to plan. You got it, right?
Mark: And it's not only planning about our emotions, but also trying to get curious about the counterparties and drivers and motivating factors as well. But sometimes we make assumptions about where they are emotionally. We automatically assume that if they're negotiating with us, they might be like us or like other people we've negotiated and that's not necessarily true. How do we deal with that bias going in?
Gaetan Pellerin: It's really cool. It's a good question. People are afraid to make assumption in negotiation or during the preparation. My belief is that's the starting point, right? Especially when we prepare. What's their driver? What do they care? What do they really want? We don't know it until we test those assumptions. And most people that do a good job in the preparation don't test their assumptions. So they go in with the belief that, oh, that is it. That's it. And they also believe when somebody yells at them that it's personal, right? So the other person has their life. They have their challenges, they have their constraint. So the ability here is to use those assumption to develop our preparation. But the ability to be mindful in the moment is to test those assumption and being curious and ask those question. Leave the bias, oh, I know that person. I've been negotiating with that sales rep for 10 years. Yeah, it might be true, but life is changing, environment is changing, right? COVID, it was last year. It's still now present in our life. It totally changed the way we negotiate with people now virtually more than in person. And people are insecure, people have emotion about the pandemic. So if we take for granted that the person in front of us is going to behave in a specific way, we're just guessing. It's like throwing a dart on the board and there's no light in the room. So it's really a guessing game and it's very dangerous.
Mark: Yeah, it can be very dangerous. One of the things that I find, in fact, even myself in the past that I've gotten involved in is because I make assumptions about people's emotions, when they display or manifest emotions that are different than what I've assumed, that throws me off. And then I don't know how to deal with that kind of a situation. So when someone maybe gets frustrated or angry or expresses an emotion that might be different than what we expect, is there a way that we can learn to slow down and manage through that process?
Gaetan Pellerin: Yeah, that's a very good question. Somebody's coming with an emotion we didn't plan. We should use the same methodology I just described-
Mark: The four Cs.
Gaetan Pellerin: ...About us, the four Cs, but now spin it toward the other person. When somebody is emotional, there is now many too reason. People wants to be seen or people wants to be heard. So if I connect with compassion and I just be curious about the other person, oh, I'm wondering why the person react this way today? So bringing curiosity about not our emotion, but the other person's emotion. Somebody is having a conversation and all of a sudden they are exploding, they're angry. Personally, I'm comfortable to say," Hey, Mark sounds like I just triggered something. You are angry at me. What's going on? Did I upset you? And if I did, I'm sorry, because that was not the intent." By just opening the door and acknowledging emotion, that's the entry way to have a conversation. People don't know what to do with emotion. It's like a hot potato. It's like, oh, I don't want to deal with that. But actually when we don't deal with it, it becomes an elephant in the room. And we're going to use persuasion because that's how we negotiate. Well, negotiating with persuasion with somebody that is emotional, it doesn't work. So bringing that methodology but reverse it like a mirror, it's going to be helpful to unlock and to understand what's the origin of that reaction. And it's also helping us, Mark, to detach ourselves from that reaction. If you got upset with me right in that conversation, it's not necessarily my fault, but I need to understand what was the trigger to bring you to that level of emotional response.
Mark: I love it. This is such a useful thing. So often we talk about planning and preparation and strategy. We hardly ever talk about our emotions and mindfulness and ego in negotiations and how to deal with that. There's hardly anyone that talks about this. So I'm glad that you've picked up the topic and this has been a fascinating discussion. I'm sure that we need to have you back on to expand on this more and have another amazing conversation. But I also know that there's probably going to be a few people that want to check out what you do online. So to that end, how do people follow you online?
Gaetan Pellerin: Well, two things. I have my website called at navigategroup. com and offer consulting, coaching, additional content of mindfulness. I just published a series of the difference between negotiation with ego and mindful negotiation, and how organization can lose money. It's on LinkedIn. People can follow me also on Facebook. It's navigate. com again, same thing. And if people are interested in that content, my book is published next Tuesday, I think, or on the 21st, the paperback version of the book. So yeah, I'm very passionate about that. So my intent here is to help people to becoming more aware of what's going on and just helping them to go to the next level.
Mark: I love it. And you've done such a fantastic job of that today. For the listeners, just so that you know, we'll link out to Gaetan social profiles as well as his website. Please go pick up the book as well when that gets published. By the time you hear this, it should be on the shelves. So please go and get this. Gaetan, thank you so much for being here and thank you for sharing your wisdom.
Gaetan Pellerin: My pleasure.
Mark: Hey friends, thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with friends and colleagues so that they can benefit from it as well. If you find Negotiations Ninja podcast worthy, please go on to iTunes and give us a cool rating with a nice review. We certainly appreciate every single one that we get because it helps us to understand who is listening, how they're listening and what it is they like. If there's something that you would like me to discuss around negotiation, influence or persuasion, give me a shout. You know how to reach me on social media, or you can get me on my website, which is www. negotiations. ninja.
Gaetan Pellerin is the author of a new book all about mindful negotiation. We often talk about planning, preparation, strategy, and tactics, right? But the success of many a negotiation often hinges on mindfulness—not many people talk about that. So what is mindful negotiation? Why should you care? What methodology can you use to be more mindful? Learn more in this episode of Negotiations Ninja!