The heartful negotiator – part 2

The heartful negotiator – part 2

Sustainable outcomes
through heartful negotiations


In part 1, RAVI VENKATESAN looked at how prior disposition, ideas and thoughts, as well as emotions and feelings, play a huge part in negotiation. In this article we’ll dive deeper into what makes up prior disposition, and how to best manage it.


Prior Disposition

Disposition is defined as the natural or prevailing aspect of one’s mind as shown in behavior and in relationships with others; for example, a happy disposition, a selfish disposition, etc.

When we enter a negotiation, there will be emotional and intellectual reactions that we have to what happens as part of that interaction. However, even before that, we each carry a disposition into that space, which heavily influences how things flow. Molding this disposition is a key first step to optimal negotiations. We will look at four specific aspects of disposition – Likes and Dislikes, Worries and Concerns, Desires, and Guilt.

Likes and Dislikes

Think of a part of your heart reacting to everything that happens – from the physical space, to the chair you sit in, to the color of the walls around you, to the person in front of you, etc. Some of the reactions are strong enough to come to your conscious mind; others don’t make it to the surface, but nevertheless impact how you feel. Remember, the same thing is happening for the person with whom you are negotiating.

The key here is to observe carefully what reactions your heart has to various things, as you enter a negotiation space, and consciously bring yourself to a ‘neutral stance’. In other words dial down any strong likes as well as strong dislikes that come up.

To make this real,
try the following exercise

Take a typical negotiation exercise that you go through on a regular basis. For example, if you are a manager, then take the interaction of providing assignments to a staff member, or if are an individual contributor, then take the interaction of discussing a new assignment with your boss. Think about things that feel pleasant or unpleasant about this interaction, and trace them back to your likes and dislikes. For example, each time you receive a new assignment you may feel anxious, and this may be because you like more specifics and details and your boss likes to provide high-level direction and empower you.

Try to approach the same interaction by setting your disposition to a neutral stance. To do this, consciously recall and dial down your strong likes and dislikes. This will lead you to being more open-minded. See if the interaction felt any different. A lot of times our disposition, especially strong likes and dislikes, will create reactions that prevent the best outcomes. Practicing this exercise and making it part of muscle memory, will go a long way to addressing this.

In summary, prior to a negotiation, recall your strong likes and dislikes, reduce them consciously to bring yourself to a neutral and open-minded state of mind. See what shifts come out of this.

Worries and Concerns

We all carry a bundle of worries and concerns with us all the time. These are mostly career or job related and family related, but can be from other sources as well. When we enter negotiations, these concerns weigh on us, and many times prevent us from reaching optimal outcomes. We cannot wish these concerns away; however, we can use a powerful Heartfulness meditation technique to alter our disposition prior to a negotiation. When our worries and concerns are aggravated during a negotiation, it often feels like the person we are negotiating with is an adversary. So if we start with a feeling that they are like a family member, like a brother or a sister, then we will approach the conversation with more ease, and reach a better understanding. To develop a general feeling of this kind in our disposition, we can simply close our eyes and meditate with our attention on our heart, for five to ten minutes every night, thinking that everyone is our brother or sister. Try this for a week before your next high stakes negotiation, and notice the difference in your disposition, in how you look at your colleagues, and the outcomes.


All of us have desires and aspirations. Many times, they tend to cloud our judgement, especially when we enter the negotiation table. They keep us focused on our interest and the other person’s position versus reaching a place of common understanding. The simple task of writing down the top two or three things that we desire, resolving to be mindful of these during the negotiation process, will prevent them from unexpectedly influencing the negotiation.


The worst burden we carry is guilt. It comes from both wrong action and inaction – not acting where we should have. Guilt creates a heaviness that can put a major cloud over any negotiation process, completely blocking open discussion and creative generation of outcomes. There are no simple and easy answers to deal with guilt, especially if it exists at a subconscious level. Here is the Heartfulness practice that helps tremendously:

Spend a few minutes each night before sleep, go into your heart, review the day, repent for any mistakes that might have been committed, even unknowingly, and genuinely resolve not to repeat these.

This clears the burden from our hearts and leaves us feeling lighter. Try this for a week and see if your disposition changes.

In summary, practice the two Heartfulness methods suggested, along with dialing down strong likes and dislikes, and writing down your top two or three desires prior to your next negotiation. See how that shifts your prior disposition.

In further articles we’ll explore what happens during the actual negotiation, and how to manage feelings and emotions in the heart as well as the ideas and thoughts in the mind to achieve the best outcomes.


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.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

I agree to these terms.