Negotiations and the Enneagram

How often have you felt angry, disappointed, cynical, or frustrated after a negotiation, thinking you should have done this or that during the process? Have you hated your counterpart after a few days of closing the deal, realizing that you attained a bad outcome, and regretted most of your behavior in the negotiation table? Negotiation is a daily activity for humans, but we know little or nothing about the best practices to interact. Even worse, we do not realize that most of the time we negotiate to satisfy our ego more than to attain what we need, and what the other party needs. Fear, desire for acceptance, or need for control drives our poor interactions with others. We try to get the bigger piece of a small pie, instead of making a bigger pie to get a bigger piece. In other words, we do not create value by understanding all parties' interests, but by trying to satisfy our position (ego's needs).

A good negotiation process has some key phases to be fulfilled. The first, and most important, is a rigorous preparation of the negotiation in terms of interests, priorities, and preferences. Then come the following: creating a good climate (relationship); sharing useful information; thoroughly understanding the problem (the situation); imagining creative solutions that satisfy the parties' interests; and, finally, arriving to an acceptable and enriching agreement.

There are Enneagram styles good at preparing (One, Six, and Five), but not as effective at making and maintaining strong relationships (One and Five). Some competitive styles (Three sometimes and Eight most of the time) forget the creation of value through the interaction and are keen to claim it (even if there is no value to split). Other styles misuse power (One and Eight) or base their negotiation on arguments instead of interests (Seven); others are better communicators, making the exchange of information easier (Two, Three, and Four), but they sometimes sacrifice their own needs for the sake of relationships. Most fear sharing their interests and priorities, sensing it will weaken their position (mainly Five and Six). The big picture is not always easy for all styles: Seven tends to see more connections than necessary, Nine wants to embrace all points of view, making it difficult to arrive to a position and therefore to an agreement, and Five compartmentalizes the situation. Worse, most styles value the individual interests (scarcity) over the collective ones (abundance). We seldom ask ourselves, "How can I make my counterpart richer?"

The fact is that humanity can only survive through cooperation, not distribution, but our characters have a hard time collaborating. It is imperative that we tame our ego to reach a new paradigm in negotiation!

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Andres Agudelo is a consultant, trainer and professor of the Enneagram, as well as an expert in negotiations, team building and psychology (Gestalt), with experience in both the private and public sectors. Currently, he is a senior consultant and partner at Tandem Insourcing, a consulting firm in Bogota, Colombia. He is an associate professor in negotiation at the University of Los Andes in Bogota. Starting in 1995, Andreas worked for ten years as a negotiator for media rights in international markets (France, United States, Italy, and Singapore). Since then, he has trained and consulted in negotiations with a wide variety of organizations.

Andres held managerial positions at the Organization Ardila Lulle and Casa Editorial El Tiempo, the second and third biggest private groups in Colombia, and was involved primarily in international negotiations for both corporations. In addition, he was a strategic advisor and consultant for the Colombian government in the negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement, as well as for the Bolivian Government in the same negotiation.

Andres also assists Ginger Lapid-Bogda as a co-trainer and coach in her Train-the-Trainer and other certification programs.