“Why is it that we don’t take the time to fine-tune our skills in breathing and in negotiation?”

As you read these sentences, bring your attention to your breath. How are you breathing? Without changing anything, ask yourself: Am I breathing efficiently? Am I using my lungs and diaphragm to their fullest extent?

Although we breathe constantly, unless we happen to be a professional singer or a wind- instrument player, yoga practitioner, or perhaps a woman taught how to breathe in preparation for childbirth, it’s unlikely we’ll ever be trained in breathing techniques.

Similarly, we negotiate all the time—far more frequently than we realize—but we rarely take the time to fine-tune our skills as negotiators. As oxygen-dependent beings, we must breathe in order to survive. But let’s not forget that we are social animals dependent on the help of others, and as social beings we are also bound to cooperate, as well as compete, just to stay alive.

Generally we think of negotiation in terms of making business deals or conducting a transaction or reaching a settlement, such as bartering at a flea market or trying to talk our way out of a traffic ticket. But we’re also negotiating when we interact with our spouse, children, neighbors, relatives, friends or adversaries. We work out agreements and promises in countless little ways with our colleagues—employer or employees, our teachers and students, our customers and creditors. We also belong to groups that negotiate with one another. Even when we’re not directly involved, our representatives are negotiating on our behalf with other communities, other nations.

Why is it that we don’t take the time to fine-tune our skills in breathing and in negotiation? We came into the world, and with one smack we started pumping air; the ability to breathe comes to us involuntarily. Perhaps this is why we accept whatever pattern we fall into as equally involuntary—something that is just there. As babies, when we needed food we cried; it worked well to get everyone’s attention.  Then caresses and nourishment followed, and in this way our hunger and other needs were taken care of. It seems as if our first experiences establish for the rest of our lives how we negotiate to get what we want.

To find out how to get out of these involuntary patterns and excel in your negotiations visit my website at www.EnlightenedNegotiation.com and register for my May 18th Enlightened Negotiation Training here.