Regular listeners may have noticed we didn’t put out a new episode last week. That wasn’t part of our original plan, but in light of George Floyd (Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others) and the protests, we felt it was much more important to make room for voices speaking around those important social justice issues. As we were also taking part in the #melanatedvoices campaign on our social platforms, we chose to forgo our regular podcast as well.
Our hope was to create more space for conversations about race relations, police brutality, and white privilege; those are the conversations we’ve been engaging with, and we plan to continue. Being back this week doesn’t mean we are no longer committed to the cause! I’ve been part of this work for over 20 years, and will continue on.
And since this is a deals podcast…let’s talk about how it all relates!
Biggest Mistakes (In Negotiations AND in Hard Conversations)
If it’s new to you – a new concept, a new conversation, a new way of seeing – definitely start learning and engaging! But please start by remembering that Black people have been living this for hundreds of years. It’s been part of their lives and experiences, and it’s something they’ve been talking about forever and could talk about all the time. There are hundreds of resources you can use to learn more; books, podcasts, educators, social accounts.
So start by investing in educating yourself with resources that already exist (rather than asking a Black person to walk you through it all yet again!). As you do that, you can be thinking about this conversation in the same way you think about a deal:
- How do you align?
- What’s the best way to support somebody?
- How do you understand what the needs are?
For example, when making deals I often point out that the biggest negotiation mistake people make is not listening enough. We tune out, we assume we know, or we spend our “listening” time thinking about what we’re going to say next.
However, this is NOT the time to make that mistake. This is a time to listen – fully listen.
When we are talking too much, it’s often because our ego is engaged. We certainly see that happening in many online conversations right now. We all have opinions. But in the same way that your ego can derail a negotiation, it can derail you right now.
Stop trying to be “right”, and focus on being effective. Rather than jumping in with your own opinion, try listening to others. It will serve you in business and negotiations, and it will also serve you when you engage with hard conversations and realities.
(The other big problem? FEAR. Listen in to the full episode to hear my take on the role fear is playing right now.)
Put Yourself on the Social Justice Court
You absolutely have to be willing to make mistakes.
This isn’t an invitation to be reckless and just and do anything. However, you can’t just refuse to speak up or engage because you’re afraid of messing up. If you want to make something happen, you have to put yourself out there.
In business, you can plan, and plan, and plan….and never get anything done. That’s just as harmful as jumping in too fast and taking action when you’re unprepared. So yes – educate yourself. Make an effort to learn more. Listen well.
But don’t forget to take action as well. Speak up. Engage. Be willing to admit to mistakes you might make as you do so.
In deals, we often make strategic alliances. You can do that here too. Whether that means being an ally to, or better yet, an advocate for friends or colleagues, aligning yourself with a movement like Black Lives Matters, or connecting more fully with your community.
As you do this, it’s vital that your focus is on their needs. As a strategic partner, do you need to share? Listen? Support? Comfort? Rally with?
When it comes to engaging with other white people, consider what will be effective and efficient.
- Where is your energy going?
- Who are you elevating?
- Who do you need to move on from?
When you’re trying to negotiate a deal and it’s clear it’s not going to happen, you move on. You want to go where you can make a difference, where progress can be made. It’s okay to stop sinking your time into a person or conversation that clearly isn’t open to learning and changing right now.
Gain Clarity & Identify Disconnects
Do the work to make sure you understand what is acceptable to you, and what’s not.
When I work with clients, we get super clear on the purpose of any possible deal. We question why we’re pursuing it, what impact we hope it will make, and why it matters to us.
You can do that with this work as well. Don’t be afraid to ask yourself the hard questions, and to dig deeper into what matters to you, and why.
Your deepest why can bring you greater clarity about your principles, your vision, and your values. We are absolutely called to figure out what we truly stand for, who we are, and what we are committed to now more than ever.
Identify disconnects between what you say you are….and who you really are.
It’s easy to post online, but not as easy to take action.
It’s easy to learn the “right” things to say, but not as easy to truly hold those beliefs in your core.
This is the time to question what you are aligned with, and how you can better align with the things you say matter most to you.
Alignment Truly Matters
In every aspect of your life, alignment matters.
Friends, relationship, business, deals, social justice.
When something is out of alignment, it does impact you.
You may find yourself needing to make decisions about people and things that you want in your life, or that you need to remove from your life. Don’t be afraid to take a good long look around and determine what actually aligns with your values, and what doesn’t.
For many years, at the end of every year, I have a practice of evaluating my relationships and determining who I need to eliminate or reduce the time I spend with in my life. It’s become such a habit that I now naturally take care of cutting ties, as needed, throughout the year and there is usually nobody on that list at the end of the year anymore. I’m aware of what aligns and what doesn’t, and I don’t hesitate to make changes in order to amplify what is actually aligned.
You can do the same.
If you say you’re committed to change and growth, you need to make sure your clients, your vendors, your business partners, and your practices are aligned with that value.
More and more, people have the understanding that who you are as a person and who you are as a brand or company is important. If they sense a disconnect, you’re going to have problems. (If you HAVE a disconnect, you have problems!) That’s why paying lip service to an idea without truly aligning yourself and your values is not a solution.
Please take the time to get educated, to explore your deepest values, and to fully listen to the voices of our Black brothers and sisters who are speaking out. Change starts with each of us. You can listen in to the full episode if you’d like to hear the rest of my thoughts on authentic alignment, making a difference in these times and how many of the principles of authentic negotiating and deal-driven growth apply to current challenges and opportunities as well!
As a white person who has been on this journey for over 20 years, I’m here to be a resource to you as well. If you’re serious about growing and learning, feel free to reach out. I would love to be able to provide you with resources and tangible ideas about how you can move forward to truly make a difference in transforming racism and white privilege.
Corey Kupfer is an expert strategist, negotiator and dealmaker. He has more than 30 years of professional deal-making and negotiating experience. Corey is a successful entrepreneur, attorney, consultant, author and professional speaker who is passionate about deal-driven growth. He is also the creator and host of the DealQuest Podcast.