Ask Powerful Questions
Asking questions is key in negotiation. Powerful questions are those that are targeted toward a specific objective. You should prepare these questions in advance of your discussion/negotiation and be prepared with answers to questions the other side may ask.
The problem in many negotiations is people don’t think things through before they have a discussion. They don’t anticipate the possible answers or reactions from the other side and aren’t prepared to answer any powerful questions the other side may have because they haven’t thought about what someone might ask them.
This reality hit me hard when I went on my first job interview after retiring from the Air Force. It was with a defense contractor for a contracts administrator job. I had no help preparing for the interview process when I retired from the Air Force so I went in there basically cold turkey.
They took the opportunity to humiliate me once they realized I wasn’t prepared. I said that I did innovative out of the box things during my military career. I never thought that I should have some responses ready should they ask me to talk about what I did. Well, they asked me and my mind went totally blank. I stumbled for the words and said something lame. I can’t remember what I said exactly but I know it was lame.
One of the guys doing the interview jumped on my lack of interview skills and started in on me like I was incompetent. The title of my degree is “Management” It’s the same as Business Management but at Park University where I got my degree, it was called “Management.” He started questioning my degree and said “who gets a degree in management? What is that anyway?” He was using a very condescending tone. After he went on like that for several minutes picking apart my resume and experience, he basically dismissed me. The other guy walked me out in total silence.
The lesson I learned from that is to be prepared not only with powerful questions but also powerful answers to substantiate anything you describe about yourself, your company, or your abilities. Whether its for a contract or a job interview or just asking your kids to do something; make sure you have done your homework and have an arsenal of information at your disposal.
See you next week!
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, MSgt USAF Retired