by Steve Roh
Hello, I’m happy to offer my latest article for the Banyan Hypnosis E-Zine. This series is intended to help hypnosis professionals by briefly summarizing concepts from sources outside of the field, and describing how the information can be applied within a hypnosis practice.
This article is about “Getting More: How to Negotiate to Achieve Your Goals in the Real World” by Stuart Diamond. Diamond is a professor at the Wharton School, has a law degree from Harvard and an MBA from Wharton. His negotiation course at Wharton is the most highly sought-after course in the curriculum.
He has negotiated on behalf of many of the largest corporations in the world and consulted for governments and the United Nations. He’s an overachiever, no mistaking that.
You might think, with a background like that, that his book about negotiation would be all about playing power-games and “win-win” strategies and rational thinking. But early on, he reveals that in the real world, those strategies “don’t work very well much of the time”.
Instead, he emphasizes emotional sensitivity, empathy, and personal human relationships. Quite the opposite of the idea of getting someone over a barrel or threatening to walk away from a deal.
This article is about how to apply some of the principles in the book to the work we do within a hypnosis practice. In that context “negotiation” being considered the process of influencing the client to achieve their desired goal.
First, be dispassionate
Diamond writes “Emotion destroys negotiations.”
I understand that as hypnotists who are in the business of helping people, there is a natural tendency to react emotionally to someone’s suffering, because we want to show them that we care and can “feel for them”.
However, I would suggest that although it is a natural tendency, it may not be what the client needs in order to achieve their goal.
For example, when working with people who have a long history of some sort of situational anxiety, it is typical that they have been around family and friends who have tried to reassure and comfort them when they are feeling fearful and nervous.
However, from my experience with many such cases, I would suggest that a hypnotist resist their own desire to provide such reassurance and comfort.
Why? Because reassuring them by telling them “It’s OK, calm down, everything is going to be all right” does nothing to solve the problem, and in any case may be factually incorrect. Plus, it sends the message: “Your emotional upset is disturbing to me and I wish you’d stop it.”
This is even more scary when it comes from someone in authority, who is supposed to be a helper. If the expert helper dismisses the person’s fears with some logical or rational “advice”, that leaves the worried person feeling dismissed, alone and even more frightened.
People who are frightened about something have a history of going through a script where well-meaning people try to comfort and reassure them by dismissing their worries.
In the hypnosis field there is a lot of debate about how much to rely on scripts. Regardless, I think it is evident that if a script hasn’t worked for a person before, then don’t keep using it for that person.
Clients have often tried many different things before trying hypnosis. It is useful to differentiate yourself from those other things. However, it is a very bad idea to attempt to put their previous attempts in a negative light (for example by saying things like “that counseling stuff never works” or “that other practitioner ripped you off”).
Why? Imagine pulling up to car dealership in your old car, looking to make a deal on a new car. The salesman shakes your hand, looks at your car and says, “Sheesh, what a piece of junk! How much did you pay for that? Buddy, you got ripped off.”
How’s that feel? It feels lousy and you have bad feelings towards that salesman in front of you for making you feel that way! So, using a “common enemy” can be a powerful tool but it must not be done in a crude and unsubtle fashion.
What are my goals?
Being dispassionate is in the service of a goal. Successful negotiation depends on the goal being kept in mind, but it has to be the right goal.
Diamond emphasizes that the least important person in any negotiation is You. The most important person is that person in front of you, and the “pictures in their mind”.
If your goal is “to make them happy and pleased with me as their hypnotist” then that is not their interest! This misalignment of interests can be felt and recognized and probably accounts for the greater difficulty that every beginner hypnotist encounters.
It’s also useful to make clear to clients that their goal should not be “to please the hypnotist by being a good subject”. Many client problems are related to the desire to be a people-pleaser, sacrificing the desired objective in order to be “liked”. You can use the hypnotist-hypnotee relationship to train them into experiencing how people-pleasing isn’t necessary.
Diamond addresses tough negotiators. He suggests that you find out how the undesired behavior violates some internal standard of the tough negotiator.
Here is an example: a successful professional was suffering from ritualistic repetitive thoughts and behavior for all his adult life. During our talk, he repeatedly used the word “hokey”, including in reference to a previous attempt at doing hypnosis, which to him seemed to involve someone trying to mystically heal him by using their positive energy.
After doing some work which reorganized the initial learning event that initiated the repetitive habit, I started talking about how certain businesses always seemed to be in demand, like palm readers, fortune tellers and storefront psychics. This seemed like a totally off-topic tangent.
I went on and on about these types of businesses and how there always seemed to be people who read horoscopes and astrology charts every week in the tabloids… etc.
I went on and on about these things, so much that he got irritated enough to snap: “I don’t go to palm readers and I don’t go to fortune tellers”.
“Exactly! Because you are not superstitious and you don’t believe in those hokey rituals.”
He called later and said he was amazed, that his habit of 20+ years was gone, calling it a life-changing difference.
When we invisibly challenge an unwanted behavior by using a subtle reminder of a standard aspect of their self-image, the unwanted behavior has little power.
This leveraged use of their core standards can be applied, for example, to the fellow who self-identifies as being a control freak — instead of being worried that “he’s going to be difficult to hypnotize” or “he’s going to be stubborn and keep smoking”, we hypnotically reframe the habit as something antithetical to control.
Or it can be used for the tattooed and pierced bartender who disdains society and its rules. Instead of the hypnotist worrying that “she’s gonna be a tough one” and trying to “convince” her into healthy living, we can use her rebellion to help achieve her goal, by framing sober living as a rejection of the “sheeple” mentality that’s all around her.
Diamond identifies credibility as one of the most important factors for negotiation.
In the hypnosis field, many hypnotists are very worried about credibility. Unfortunately, this worry often causes them to overcompensate, by trying too hard to be credible in exactly the wrong way.
They overcompensate by desperately trying to assure potential clients of how successful hypnosis will be… by trying to project confidence in the form of “Yes! Hypnosis will help you! I just know it, by golly! It must work! It will work! Please trust me!”
Everyone who wants to solve a personal problem would like to hear that. But the problem is, no one believes it, even if they’d like to hear it.
Not exactly… the only people who would believe that kind of thing are gullible and foolish people, generally an undesirable client base for intensely personal work (after all, we are not talking about selling late-nite TV pasta-makers or snuggy towels that will help you develop the perfect six-pack stomach).
People who understand human nature (hopefully that would include working hypnotists) understand implictly the concept of the “damaging admission”. A damaging admission is the proactive declaration of risks, uncertainties and possible downsides to your offer. Done skillfully, this increases trust and credibility. And anyway, it’s just the right thing to do!
Well, I hope this hypnotic consideration of Stuart Diamond’s “Getting More” has been of interest to you and provoked some useful thought processes. There is obviously a lot more content to the book but I hope this is a nice introduction to checking it out for yourself.
©2011 Steve Roh