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Negotiating better starts from within (feat. Erica Ariel Fox)

Jul 21, 2021

Pay attention to people who annoy you or whom you wish you could be more like. They are mirrors for the parts of yourself you may have rejected. 


This is the first step Erica Ariel Fox recommends leaders take to become better negotiators. Erica believes that better negotiation starts not with learning classic negotiating tactics, but with learning to negotiate better with yourself.


If you aren’t able to “get to yes” within yourself, it’s impossible to reach an agreement with others.


Erica teaches negotiation at Harvard Law School, is a CEO advisor, and contributes to Forbes magazine. She’s also the author of Winning From Within, which outlines a contemporary approach for getting more of what you want, improving relationships, and enjoying life’s deeper rewards.


In her framework of negotiation, she explains that we have some aspect of “inner negotiators”  within ourselves, especially the “Big Four”: 

  • Dreamer (the part of yourself that focuses on vision and inspiration)
  • Thinker (the part of yourself that focuses on rational arguments and logic)
  • Lover (the part of yourself that focuses on personal meaning and relationships)
  • Warrior (the part of yourself that focuses on execution and advocacy)


Many leaders tend to identify most with just one or two of these “Big Four” — what they might consider their strengths. But according to Erica, every leader has all four within. Learning to use all four inner negotiators helps leaders be more effective.


How to know if your inner negotiators are unbalanced


Erica shares a hypothetical scenario that will likely feel familiar for many heart-centered leaders:


Imagine someone who believes that overt assertiveness is bad professional behavior. In Erica’s inner negotiator framework, this is a person who identifies strongly with the Lover part of themselves and rejects the Warrior part.


This serves them well sometimes, but not always. For example, in a salary negotiation, this person might connect to the  Dreamer part of themselves who has a better vision for themselves, the Thinker who knows logically what they could be earning elsewhere, and the Warrior who tells them to advocate for themselves. But the Lover is worried about being liked and not coming across as aggressive.


Because this person over-identifies with the Lover negotiator, they will likely ignore the signals from the other three and simply accept the first offer they are given. A more balanced approach would have served them much better in this situation.


How to balance your inner negotiators


Erica is careful to explain that balance does not mean relying equally on all four inner negotiators at all times. Instead, it’s about being able to quickly shift into the inner negotiator that serves you best in the circumstance.


For example, when COVID hit, the most effective leaders were those who were able to pivot into the Lover aspect of themselves, sensing what their team needed most (security, reassurance) and providing it.


Erica also shares…
  • What being a 360-degree leader means
  • How becoming more self-aware leads to better leadership outcomes
  • How to embody and listen to more of your inner negotiators


Follow Erica Ariel Fox’s articles on Forbes at https://www.forbes.com/sites/ericaarielfox.


Interested in more? Here’s another great Enlightened Executive interview, featuring Joey Klein, about how the Inner Matrix system uses his training in martial arts to help leaders navigate their inner state.

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