The heartful negotiator – part 6

The heartful negotiator – part 6

Intellect – Logic & Reason

In the previous 5 articles of this series, RAVI VENKATESAN explored feelings and emotions of the heart, as well as the role played by our ego in negotiations. We learnt ways to observe ourselves better and manage these aspects so as to improve our heartful negotiation skills. In part 6, we learn the role our intellect plays in negotiations, and how to manage this faculty.

Intellect – our mind’s tool for analysis and decision-making

To understand the functioning of our intellect better, we need a conceptual model of how it works with the rest of our heart-mind vibrational field. We have thoughts, feelings and emotions. These  are not physical things, but they are part of us. Since they are not part of our body but are part of us, we say in a broad sense that they are part of our mind. However, as we get more granular, we realize that the mind functions when we are conscious, so we have something called consciousness. We also see that while our mind produces thoughts, some part of us evaluates people, situations, ideas etc., performs analysis, applies reasoning and makes decisions. We call this the intellect. We also know that we have an ego, which maintains a mental model of ourselves, which it is constantly updating, based on interactions with the external world and based on internal inspirations. We therefore end up with four main things: mind, intellect, consciousness and ego, which work together to accomplish what we may call mental processes.

The intellect is that part of us which is most similar to a computer. It receives inputs, performs computations based on logic and reason, by using these inputs and a database of past knowledge and experience. It does not however possess a moral compass, and many times the struggle in negotiations is not when and how to use the intellect, but rather when and how not to use it. To  understand the role played by the intellect n negotiation, consider a scenario where Karen, Pooja and Clark, board members of a homeowners association (HOA), are debating whether or not to increase the monthly fees.

KAREN: We have kept the monthly HOA fee the same for the last three years, so we have to increase it at least 10% this year.

POOJA: Our fees are already higher than other HOAs in this area. If we are able to manage our costs, why burden our homeowners with higher fees?

CLARK: I think Pooja’s point is logical. Why should we increase fees if we are already higher than most? It will only upset our residents, and we may not get elected next time.

KAREN: I agree with your logic, but we provide more services than other HOAs. Our landscaping is much better than others, and we provide plumbing services without extra cost. The cost for these vendors is going up, so is it not reasonable for us to charge more? Also, if we keep the fees the same, then we will have to drop some services, and this may also upset our residents.

POOJA: I still think that a cost increase will be difficult for our residents to accept.

CLARK: We have a lot more elderly residents in our neighborhood than others. They will not be able to pitch in with landscaping and plumbing like residents in other neighborhoods. I feel that if we explain this to them then they will probably understand the increase in costs. Would that not be the right thing to do?

POOJA: That does feel like the right thing to do.

What you see in this negotiation is that for both Pooja and Clark the intellect takes over early. This is also fed by Karen opening the negotiation with a fact that is naturally evaluated by both Pooja  and Clark. Later, though, Karen blends this fact-based, logic- and reason-based intellectual approach with empathy. By putting herself in the shoes of older residents, she strikes a chord with the  others. The key is not to avoid intellect-based reasoning and logic, but rather to complement it with intuition, inspiration, empathy and conscience. In simpler words, refer to the heart for  guidance on what is the ‘right thing to do’ in any situation versus the convenient or the logical thing. The intellect is no doubt useful for understanding and analyzing all the facts, but a purely intellectual argument will seldom be as effective as one complemented with a heart-based decision, which also feels right.

Tips for managing the intellect:
In your next interaction or negotiation, as your intellect automatically kicks in, observe in order to evaluate facts, and then apply logic and reason.
Purposefully add empathy and put yourself in the shoes of whomever you are negotiating with, or key stakeholders who may not be directly part of the negotiation but will be impacted by the outcome.
Be alert to whenever you are coming across as too intellectual, too cold or too unfeeling.
Complement your intellectual reasons with a heartful approach. For example, “We should give in on this, in the interest of building goodwill,” “Adding this one additional benefit will ensure that our customers are not just satisfied but delighted,” and my favorite, “This feels like the right thing to do.” Observe the power of using these types of statements. Note: you have to mean them! Faking doesn’t work with heartful negotiating.

There are many clever and intelligent negotiators who use their intellect to make excellent arguments and points, and often think that they win negotiations. In reality they leave a lot of value on the table and fail to build longterm relationships that can lead to longer term success with high stakes negotiations. They don’t balance the intellect with guidance from the heart. Practice the above suggestions and see how these improve our effectiveness in negotiations. In Star Trek terms, be Kirk not Spock!

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Ravi Venkatesan

About Ravi Venkatesan

Ravi lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and currently works as Chief Technology Officer in a software solutions company. He is also a regular public speaker and public speaking coach. He has been a Heartfulness meditator for over 20 years and is passionate about applying meditation lessons to improve workplace relationships and productivity.

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