In 1994, I coined the term negotiation consciousness
to describe how successful negotiators are assertive and challenge
everything. This is the most important trait for any negotiator.
To my delight, the scientific community has confirmed a correlation
between negotiation consciousness and longevity. What a relief
-- I'm going to live longer!
The San Francisco Chronicle has reported the findings
of a 10-year study of centenarians Americans who have passed
their 100th birthday run by psychologist Leonard Poon,
director of the University of Georgia's Gerontology Center.
Poon's study began in 1988 on a National Institutes of Health
grant. His objective was to explore reasons for successful
aging. What he found was that "in extreme old age individuals
can be assertive and forceful." Centenarians "tend to be independent,"
Poon said. "They also tend to be suspicious. They won't just
take one's word on something. They tend to question what you
have to tell them."
In other words, people who exhibit the number one trait of
successful negotiators negotiation consciousness are
more likely to live longer!
Challenge Your Mortality
As I explain in my book, Negotiation Boot Camp,
all of the successful negotiators I know proceed from the
assumption that everything is negotiable. Challenge,
as my book defines it, means not taking things at face value.
It means thinking for yourself. You must be able to make up
your own mind, as opposed to believing everything you are
told. Sound familiar? It sounds like it's right out of Poon's
My assumption is that you can't be a successful negotiator
unless you are willing to challenge the validity of the opposing
position. People who pay full sticker price on a new car and
who believe everything they read in the newspaper or hear
on CNN are not likely candidates for Negotiator of the
Month. Ironically, neither are they likely candidates
Some new age thinkers like Deepak Chopra have suggested that
the aging process can be retarded by positive mental attitude.
What Poon's study suggests is that positive mental attitude,
or what I call negotiation consciousness, is a mandatory prerequisite
Assert Your Way To 100
Poon also describes his centenarians as being
assertive. Being assertive means taking care of your
own interests while maintaining respect for the interests
of others. (As opposed to being aggressive, which implies
that you attend to your own interests with a lack of regard
for others.) Here are some assertiveness training tips:
Ask. Get into the habit of asking for what you want.
Be persistent. Don't take no for an answer. In my negotiation
training seminars, I am always amazed at how many participants
are reluctant to pursue their basic interests. We have been
led to believe that there is something wrong with taking care
of our own needs.
Next time you take a commercial flight, read the card that
describes what to do in the event of a loss of cabin pressure.
You are advised to adjust your own breathing mask before you
attend to that of your child. In other words, if we don't
satisfy our own needs, we aren't in a very good position to
help anyone else. People who ask for what they need are people
Eliminate negative self-talk. Self-awareness is the
key. Every time you become aware that your inner voice is
telling you not to be assertive, give yourself a pat on the
back. Substitute a positive thought for the negative one.
"I have a good chance of getting what I want if I ask for
it" is more productive than "They'll never say yes."
Practice expressing your feelings without anxiety or anger.
Let people know how you feel in a non-threatening way. Practice
'I' statements. For example, instead of saying, "You shouldn't
do that," try substituting, "I don't feel comfortable when
you do that."
Learn how to say no. In other words, set limits.
If you perceive yourself as a separate human being, you can
establish your boundaries. Don't permit other people to step
over those boundaries. This is how we learn to withstand intimidation.
"I'm sorry, but I'm really not interested in buying a car
today, thank you."
I hope you're as excited as I am to know that being an avid
negotiator means living longer. Please let me know if this
works for you call me when you reach 100! If I don't answer,