C-19 – ENGAGE asking people what’s driving a decision

Part 7 Negotiating during C-19 – ENGAGE asking people what’s driving a decision

This is an adapted transcript from a series of videos I created to help people with practical advice to negotiate during the challenging times we’re currently facing due to COVID-19. – The VLOG can be viewed on LinkedIn HERE



So what I’ve noticed is people’s drivers at the moment are obviously quite different to what they would normally be. And that’s causing a lot of confusion and frustration, and probably a heightened emotional sense in that discussion anyway.

Normally, you can read the play in the room, you can sort of predict what people would be driven by. And, when you’re doing your preparation before you go into the room, then often you will have thought about, okay, if I say ‘this’, they’ll probably say ‘that’. Now that will still work to a point – so we definitely need to do the preparation before we go into the room, trying to work out what are the scenarios that could deliver the outputs we want from this conversation.

But I think that it’s a time when we really need to talk about why people are asking ‘that’ question or why you’re saying no to that particular ‘thing’.

  • I talk about 15 seconds of pain: it takes 15 seconds from you thinking of an idea, to getting it from your head, to your heart, and then out of your mouth.

Now a lot of people would say that “I really hate asking that question anyway. So why would I feel any better about it during COVID-19?” You won’t, you won’t feel any better about it. It’ll still feel uncomfortable, a little bit horrible. However, it’ll get you practicing, so that when we get back to ‘normal life’ perhaps you might be a bit more confident to ask the questions that previously shied away from.

So, when you’re in a meeting, on a Zoom call or a chat or whatnot, and you’re having these negotiations and the other person is behaving in a way that you just can’t get your head around. And you find yourself thinking – “Why are they saying that?” Then I suggest you write down on your notepad, the full question you would like to ask. Maybe the question is:

  • What is driving this decision?
  • How can we work this out together?
  • Is there something that I can say or do that will change the outcome of this conversation?
  • Or are we just not going to reach agreement and we all need to go away and think about that. Do we each need some time to think it over?

Fear might be driving the decision

People are not doing things rationally at the moment, and I think that makes total sense because they’re coming from a place of fear, which is never a healthy place to come from, but the entire universe is coming from that place.

So if you can take a moment to actually turn it from being about ‘you and me’ to about ‘us solving the problem together’, because we’re all in this together. That might change the dial on the conversation.



Investing in pushing through 15 Seconds of Pain, will give you greater confidence, and help you feel more capable to step up to more negotiations.


Good luck!

About Sam Trattles – Sam has built a career around negotiation – through marketing, brand, and sponsorship roles over 20 years. She builds capability and confidence in your people by creating strategies that deliver positive business results. Unlocking the value in all your deals. Sam is a straight shooter, she is practical and likes to share her knowledge to help others learn to love negotiating (or to at least, not to hate it). Because it’s worth a great deal.


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