3 Problems With “I am Normal”



1. Our unconscious reaction to those who see things differently from us is they’re “abnormal.”

We all know the cliché about making a bad assumption. One of the most innocent, invisible and yet most damaging assumptions is “I am normal.” After all, who wouldn’t make this assumption?

What does it mean when others see things differently?

In the negotiations process, many of us are influenced (and misled) by the “I am normal” paradox. Our hypothesis is that the world should look to others as it looks to us.

We believe others want to be treated t he way we want to be treated. By extension, if you do not agree with the “I am normal” statement, what does that make you?

2. Two out of three people you deal with will see themselves as being the “normal” one – not you.

There is a minimum 66% chance the person you are dealing with on the other side has an approach to negotiation vastly different from yours. When we use the idea of “I am normal,” we unconsciously project our own ideals and business sense on the other side. Just because you like pepperoni pizza, they should also like pepperoni. It only makes sense, right? Pepperoni is delicious! Wrong! Normal is like beauty and is in the eye of the beholder.

Essentially, there are three different types of negotiators. Understanding which type you are dealing with will help you understand their definition of “normal.”

The first negotiator type is strongly predisposed to compete and win at all costs. They have an aggressive communication style and a low regard for future relationships. Once they get a small piece, they always want more.

The second negotiator type gets tremendous satisfaction from helping others achieve their goals. They believe negotiations are about more than winning and losing. To them, the relationship is most important. They will give a small piece and hope the other side also gives a piece.

The third negotiator type is a reserved problem-solver. This type often passes up opportunities to negotiate in favor of flying solo. They are information aggregators and are hypersensitive to reciprocity. They will give a piece. If they don’t get a piece in return within in a certain period of time, they will walk.

3. Each one of the three negotiator types prepare differently.

From the way they prepare to the way they engage in dialogue, all three types negotiate completely differently. A Chief Executive Officer once said he expects nine out of ten negotiations to fail. This CEO was likely projecting his beliefs about deal-making onto the other side. In reality, he probably matched with someone like-minded one out of ten times. If he understood the person on the other side of the table or phone was completely different from him, he would most surely increase his negotiation successes.

Your First Step = Identify what characteristics are stated or implied by the other side. Actively listen. This will immediately give you an edge. Once you have learned enough about them, you can understand your counterpart and begin to predict their train of thought and response. From there, you can adapt your approach to gain the upper hand.

 Read more articles from Brandon and learn about the Effectively Influencing Others Course for teams.


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About The Author

Brandon Voss is the Director of Operations and an Instructor/Consultant with The Black Swan Group. Brandon has been instrumental in adapting the FBI’s hostage negotiation techniques to the business world. In addition to training clients, Brandon has guest lectured at USC Marshall School of Business and Georgetown McDonough School of Business.