How to Easily Pull Off Your Next Negotiation with Alistair McBride on the Build a Vibrant Culture Podcast with Nicole Greer

Show Notes:

  • Leadership vs Management
  • “Sell it to the psychopath in the room”
  • Many leaders lack the balance of Task vs People and what they can do about it
  • Why HBR say the ability to communicate is the most important facet of making someone promotable
  • Deals with higher trust create over 35% more value for both parties
  • The power of a Positive No
  • The importance of being the Implementer mindset not just being the Deal Maker


Alistair McBride: Seek to understand before you’re understood, and it’s the same with communication, same as negotiation. So you’re just thinking, where is this person meeting me at. So as we would say like in marketing, you don’t, or in any communication, you don’t want to meet people where you’re at, because they’re not there.

Voiceover: You’re listening to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast with professional speaker, coach and consultant, Nicole Greer.

Nicole Greer: Hey, everybody, this is Nicole Greer, welcome to the Vibrant Culture podcast. I am so excited to be with you here today. I have got a friend from across the pond all the way over in Berlin. I’ve got Alistair McBride. He is a coach, a facilitator and a trainer who has started numerous small businesses. He coaches executives and business owners across an array of industries and gives his clients the psychological edge in negotiation. Don’t miss that, we’re gonna highlight negotiation big time today.

And he also shares with them techniques to do high impact conversations. His new program is called Goliath Negotiation Method. And you can find that at Al’s is a regular guest lecturer and a facilitator in multiple universities in Ireland on topics such as cognitive behavioral coaching, as well as entrepreneurship and innovation. Oh, my goodness, I’m excited. That bio has got me all thrilled that I’ve got Al on the call. And I do get to call you Al. Is that right?

Alistair: Of course. Al, or Alistair whatever? It’s all good. So great to be here, Nicole.

Nicole: Yeah, I’m delighted to have you. And so right out of the gate, everybody that listens to the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast understands I am collecting definitions of leadership. I’m going to try to figure out what is leadership? So I’d love to hear Al’s definition. What do you think about that?

Alistair: Well, I just was thinking about this, because people often I don’t know if I’m answering the question directly or not. But they often think in terms of what’s leadership, often compared to management. You know, I’m a big fan of Peter Drucker’s work where he said, you lead people, and you manage things. And the follow on from that he said, leadership is doing the right things, whereas management is doing things right. And I love that definition, because it starts us down a whole line of cascading thoughts after that, which is that leadership is meant to give direction. It’s meant to give, it’s meant to leaders are meant to make decisions and create and make choices, often hard choices. And these are absolutely intricate into the role of the leader.

When Daniel Goleman has a course of six leadership styles, you know, and we won’t go into all six of them. But even just to mention that the classic leader as the paternal leader who just the maternal leader, just issues orders and instruction. Do it my way. You know, the very authoritarian leader is sort of the classic model, but thankfully has gone largely out of fashion. But one of the most underused leadership styles even still is the coach leader, or the coaching leader, where they use those principles of coaching, which I know you’re a big fan of as well, Nicole, in their leadership, and management style. Now might be their dominant style, but it’s a skill set that they can bring in.

And what what’s core to coaching is that they’re trying to grow the team, the staff, the good the people around them, they’re trying to improve them. Now, my whole thing, I often say to people, particularly in negotiation is you know, you can be all about the benefit for people and, and good karma and all that good stuff. Like I know your are Nicole, as I think I try to do myself, but you know, you also need to sell it to the psychopaths in the room. So it’s not just about it, you know, or that cold, hard logic stuff. It’s not just about coach leadership, this idea of helping people grow as a nice idea. Because people might cynical people might say, oh, yeah, but what happens when they they grow? And then they just leave you? What’s the point, then, you know.

Nicole: I’ve heard that so many times.

Alistair: Exactly. You they grow so that you can give them more work, so that you could give them more responsibility so that you can get better and from that get better results. I remember I think was Tim Ferriss said this years ago, when he was learning on how to outsource a lot of his processes to his assistants. And he came up with the phrase, I don’t know, complimentary it is but the more responsibility the higher the IQ goes. So the more the more responsibility you give people within boundaries, you know that you want responsibility with accountability. And as you give them more responsibly, which is weighted at their skill set level, you know that IQ there in inverted commas, their IQ goes up their ability to actually think and create better solutions rises, and rises quite quickly.

Both, as I said, because you’re giving them new challenges which we’re adapting, which is humans, particularly in a lot of workplaces, where we want challenge, we don’t want to be too easy, you don’t want to be bored is the worst thing. But the next point in that is that, that we’re learning that you’re always pushing that your competencies. You know, if you’re asked to go 20%, beyond your competencies, you’re in big trouble, you got anxiety, and it’s stressful. But if you’re asked to go within that kind of 90 to 105%, you’re getting into all those, well, those sort of flow states that are becoming more and more recognized these days where you’re able to, to adapt to that challenge, the challenge and the skill set are in about the right order. And, and it really gets the best out of people.

That might be what’s necessary and in, in that coach leadership style, but it’s also tapping into the idea of developing people, that idea of growing people, but in a highly interactive way. In a way so that you like, okay, so one of the things when I coach people more so who are newer to leadership roles, but the so that they’re usually very prominent, very good at the tasks they do and the job that they have been doing. But now they need to manage people a lot more, a lot better, that kind of thing. So it’s often like in law firms, people who want to break through into partner and they have a lot of good stuff, but they’re missing some key elements. The same at some of those big financial firms, that kind of thing. And what’s so often is the key is that they’re, that they, they lack this, how to put it, this balance of tasks versus people.

And this is a key thing in in leaders, leadership and management, indeed, you know, leadership, management, they’re kind of different sides of the same coin, for a certain degree. They are different things. But I use, I sometimes use the terms interchangeably. So hopefully, that doesn’t annoy you. But it is this balance between tasks and people were often people get very high very quickly, because they’re excellent at delivering on the task, whatever that the business operation is they deliver. If it’s selling, they’re selling, if it’s, you know, putting giant packages together and putting it out, or whatever the whatever the thing is, they’re good at doing that. And then suddenly, they have to lead other people. And often they’re not trained particularly well in leading other people that first start. So they’re just expected to know.

Nicole: You’re just taking a great technician. And you turn them into a leader without preparing them. I just wanted to throw that in there, because I just want to say Al is correct. Okay, so you can keep going. I had to interject that number one thing I see.

Alistair: It’s a great highlight, Nicole, it’s a great highlight. Because, again, it’s something I see on my colleagues here, and I’m sure you see it all the time as well. Even if they’re given a short course or something like oh, take they’re now trained in management and leadership. Come on, there’s this PhDs done on minute miniscule parts of each area of this, just dealing with human beings, it’s the most complex stuff in a lot of ways. And it as I said, it’s this task versus people were mostly in modern Western work environments, people default to leaning more toward task. Now I find with within more independent business owners, not always, with creative types, they tend to lean also toward people. They don’t want to step on people’s toes. They’re all about relationships. And particularly people who are great at building relationships, then, obviously, in negotiation have the same problem, the task, versus people balance.

That you don’t want to burn bridges, you don’t offend people, you don’t want to, you know, create or ruin all the good rapport that you’ve built up over however long. Or even just reputational, maybe, you know, you’re conscious that you may or may not see this individual, again, whether it’s a colleague or a client. But you know, you don’t want them to speak ill of you, you know, so it’s a natural human thing that we want to be liked. Now, if those get the job done versus wanting to be liked. Again, the thing in most modern workplaces is people like, I get the job done. You know, the amount of times you hear these narratives from people, when you talk to them, not very long, whether I’m the one who gets the ball over the line, and these sort of, right.

These sort of terms where, you know, often sporting analogies not not always but you know, they drive home this thing that no matter what, I get it done. And why, because that’s what’s got them there, that they deliver and that’s that’s fantastic. You know, that’s often, as you said, there, they’re technicians. They’re good at delivering that key thing. But how do they then move to the next stage? How do they then involve their team? Because one of the other things that I’m sure you see a lot, particularly in middle or executives, when they’re new to these bigger roles. They continue to struggle because they’re, oh, I’m working so late and like, my team aren’t doing this and aren’t doing that. And that’s because they’re often not able to delegate accurately or appropriately. Because, oh, if I got to do it, I might as well make sure it’s done, right, this kind of thing.

That means you haven’t trained your team or you haven’t instructed your team, or help manage your team in doing some of those processes. This is why better leaders, you know, the people who make that CEO, or CFO or whatever it is, in their relevant area, almost always, are much better at handing work to other people on their team, their direct reports or their colleagues, and focusing on what they do absolutely best. Whereas people who aren’t, they’re still in that earlier mode of getting, I get the ball over the line. But yeah, but you’re stepping on lots of toes, you’re alienating your team. They feel underused and bored half the time. And like, I need a challenge here. This person wants to do everything they’re not able to give work and unable to give instruction. So anyway, I keep banging on here. Sorry about that, Nicole. You got me excited with that question.

Nicole: I just asked one question.

Alistair: I’m energetic about that one, because you’re right, it is something that you see so often. And it is a case of what got you here won’t get you there.

Nicole: Oh, which is Marshall Goldsmith, everybody. So write that down. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It’s a book by Marshall Goldsmith and bonus material on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. Not only do you need to go to Al’s website, which we will definitely put in the show notes, but you need to go over to He’s got an entire library full of stuff that’s just sitting there, and it’s free. I mean, it’s a treasure trove. Oh my gosh. So please go over there. And then I just want to highlight a couple of other things that Al mentioned because like, his passion is so beautiful, first of all. But he mentioned Peter Drucker. So just a little FYI, for you.

For those of you who are like Peter who? Okay, Peter Drucker was like The Godfather, like he birthed the idea of leadership and management into kind of the world in the 50s., in the 60s. He has passed, there’s this place out in California called the Drucker Institute. Everybody write that down, Drucker Institute, you got to get yourself there. Okay, go there. And then here’s the other thing that you may not know about Al and Nicole is we’re both trying to write a book right now. And here’s my inspiration for you, Al. I know you’re, you’re in the process. I’m in the process. I’ve extended my process. But Peter Drucker wrote over 60 books, and he wrote most of them after he turned 50. So that’s, that’s what I’m hanging my hat on.

Alistair: That’s a very interesting point. I mean, the Effective Executive is often, is still one of the most recommended books by CEOs, for executives. So it’s basically how to do that job. And this is the point it was written in the 60s. But the principles are evergreen, this is the point. The tools may change, you know that we’re using laptops and zoom and all the rest of it, but the principles remain the same. And that speaks to the value that it’s still so hugely recommended. So as you say, Peter Drucker. 60 books, but start with the Effective Executive.

Nicole: Okay, I love that. And then also don’t miss what he mentioned, he said, you need to go check out Goleman’s work, right? So that he he downloaded to you. And then the other thing that I got out of what you said, which I think I want to slow us down and just say, a great leader balances the need to take care of the people with the need to get the stuff done, to get the task done. So you know, you you might have two columns, you know, on your daily planner, where you’re like, where am I talking to the people? And where am I making sure the stuff the strategies getting done, so that you really downloaded a whole lot. So you might want to rewind, start over and listen again. But it was really good. It was really good. Okay. All right. So here’s what I want to do though, is I you’ve got this expertise in negotiation and you’re a master of communication and getting others to do that masterfully. And I’m going to tell you Al, when I go places. I say what’s going on and like we need to communicate.

Alistair: Send them to me Nicole.

Nicole: That’s the crux of everything. Okay, so first of all, what makes a leader effective in communication? Like let’s, let’s foundationally set it up. So why is communication like the skill a leader needs to have? What do you think?

Alistair: Well, there’s a few attributes. I mean, one of the things that I often say to people is that there’s a Harvard Business Review study from a few years ago. And essentially, it said that they they interviewed hundreds of CEOs and all sorts of different industries. And what came across came out of it was quite profound. It said that the ability to communicate was the number one attribute in making someone promotable. Right, and that was rated higher than ambition, education, or even hard work. And when you start to think about why is that? Because, like, come on, why is that? It’s because often we all have qualifications for a certain position, right? And we’re all expected to work pretty hard. So a lot of those things these days are kind of givens. Right? What makes the difference with someone is whether they can communicate their ideas.

Whether they can communicate the value that they’ve already brought. Whether they can tell a compelling story. All right, all of these different aspects are even just sometimes, you know, this, it per conversation per interaction, this might only make a tiny difference. But some days, it makes a huge difference. Because you really get through to someone who otherwise you might not have gotten through to, but most of the time, it might be a very small thing. But all those little gains, they compound, they’re like compound interest in a bank account. That for the first while it doesn’t make that much of a difference, you start looking at it, you know, months, years, when you compare careers.

And the person who’s the better communicator, it just goes higher, further and faster, over time, over 10, 20 30 years. Over a whole career. They have, you know, more choice in the roles of the tech in the projects that are working on, and who works on their team by able to convince, persuade, and influence people to join their team that they want to have, they’re the ones that and get the most out of those people. So it’s a lot of those those skill sets. But I mean, I’m talking about leadership now. And that more general, more maybe more modern term of a leader where everyone is expected, even from the most junior person to at least lead themselves. So you have to lead yourself before you can lead others. So before even they have a title, which is all about now I’m the leader, you know, that you’re expected to lead yourself.

Because let’s be honest, in modern workplaces, even if you’re a very small startup, you know, there’s only four of you or something you’re influencing, you’re influencing across, you’re influencing up, you’re influencing down, you’re influencing. In other, if it’s a big organization and other departments where you have no actual power, you’re having to influence to get things from them. Or maybe you need that report faster than they’re happy to give it to you or all these sort of little things. And the better that you can communicate, the better that you can influence, persuade. And, as I said, and even show and demonstrate the value that you bring in the first instance. So all of those aspects all come together. And they’re the similar type of aspects, as I said, in more formal negotiation. It’s all the same sort of skill sets, same sort of principles. And sorry, very long winded answer to your question here, Nicole.

Nicole: I think it’s fantastic. Because, you know, this is, this is what, you know, and I like to do this, I like to kind of go back through because I, I think people are on their treadmill Al, or they’re driving their car. And it’s like he said, he said something, and I want to make sure I don’t miss it. But the question was, you know, why is communication, the real deal? And you said, because you can’t get your ideas communicated, you can’t demonstrate value, you can’t share a proper story. And we all know, I mean, we could talk for, you and I could talk about stories for probably four hours or something. But the power of a story, it’s like the innate human tool to convey a message is through a story, right? Because I’ll remember a story before I’ll remember some kind of formula or something. And then you said, you know, being able to have a proper conversation, and I just wrote when I wrote down that word, I wrote down rapport.

Alistair: Hmm, absolutely. And you hit the nail on the head with rapport. Because the next step was communication, first of all, is that you’re able to actually enunciate your ideas and all that, but you really start with the other in mind. You know, this, the, you know, the Stephen Covey said, you know, start with the end in mind. But, you know, before that he said, this was a key parallel here is, seek to understand before you’re understood, and it’s the same with communication, same as negotiation. So you’re just thinking, where is this person meeting me at? So as we would say like in marketing, you don’t or in any communication, you don’t want to meet people where you’re at, because they’re not there. You have to meet them where they’re at.

And it’s just even realizing that because a lot of people go we’re pretty much in the same place. No, you’re not. I can just tell you now. Do you think you’re in the same place? You’re not. So even just having that question is, okay, I know kind of where I’m at. But where is this person probably coming from. Now it’s a hypothesis. We don’t fall into an assumption trap. You know, because assumptions and false certainty are dangerous. We’re having a hypothesis, we’re testing a theory here. But it’s the point that you see what I mean, it’s the perspective, it’s the mindset that you’re coming to this at that maybe, you know, they’re having a hard time, and they’re actually overworked. And they’re really stressed when I call them and that’s why they’re not that happy to hear from me.

So maybe be prepared when I phone them that they might be a bit stressed. Rather than hey, Nicole, great to hear from you, you know. So, it’s just even like, I know I’m getting super basic here. But it’s just having that peace of mind that mindset that to meet them where they are not where you are. And have that idea work, which great leaders tend to that they’re trying to get into the mindsets of, in negotiation, we would say the other side or the counterpart. But it might be into the, into the into the headspace of your team member. Maybe they were performing very well. And now suddenly, the performance is dropped. Right? So it’s like, what may have happened. Now you don’t want to go in with all sorts of assumptions. But again, it’s just that awareness that something has changed. Maybe you should ask how they’re doing. Lean toward the human rather than, why is this task not complete, you know. It’s like they have been performing, they can do the job, that’s not the problem.

So if something else is the problem, you know. So it’s reaching to that rapport or reaching to that treating people as other human beings. You know, this is absolutely key in any business, because everything we’re not treating people as human beings, is the thing that’s faster to be replaced by AI. It’s all the human stuff, that’s much, that’s going to be the last thing replaced by AI. Alright, so I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s establishing that rapport. But even just starting with those questions in your head, that set up the mindset to allow more natural rapport to actually grow. Why? Because you’re interested in the other side. You’re interested in, what they’re thinking, your incident, how they’re doing, how they’re feeling, whatever that might be. But it’s that attitude is what I’m talking about.

And this is one of the things where people often go, oh, yeah, what can I say in this situation? What can I say in that. And yeah, there are certain, you know, things that one could say, but it’s more the attitude. That’s how you sound authentic. That’s how you sound like you actually care, rather than using the line. You know, whatever the line might be, in some sort of management textbook or something. Because people can tell if you care or not. They can even tell if you’re genuinely interested or not. So that’s what we’re trying to tap into. And it’s just that the human edge, that starts to establish that crucial thing, which is that rapport. And again, talking to the cold, hard person, you know, the psychopath in the room.

Nicole: Okay, I wrote that down twice. I want to talk about the psychopath in the room.

Alistair: I mean, it’s just a thought piece for me just sort of say that, you know, a lot of people might be on board with you. But it’s, it’s, it’s the people who are on the fence, and you need to be able to sell it to the people who are all on board with the good karma stuff that you and I, you know, we’re all about. But people are like, the cold, hard facts, and maybe they’re not psychopaths, but they’re in the same thing. Which is that when you have rapport with someone, or when you know, you can, it takes a while to build trust, trust is not built in a day, but rapport can be built really quickly. You know, some people you just meet and you go, I really liked that person, or I really got a feeling I can work with that person, you know, that kind of thing. Never mind interpret, like, you know, anything more than that. But rapport can be built very quickly.

But that’s the basis for building trust, which is built over time. But it also means when you have, and this has been shown by a lot of negotiation research, as an example. And it there’s no reason to think it’s any different in smaller scale, social or work relationships, that deals that are done in negotiation, which are rated as high trust, have over 35% more value created than deals with low trust. Now, again, that’s not rocket science why that might be. So also deals last longer, when there’s higher trust. Why? Because you have the benefit of the doubt. If one side or the other inevitably drops the ball, the other side will go, oh, I knew they’d mess. I knew they’d drop the ball, I knew they’re only messing around. They don’t care about us. Instead of that kind of going to the negative. Why? Because there’s no trust built, it’s natural to go to the negative where we’re humans, unfortunately, what is it you know, we need to hear like eight positive things to every negative thing or whatever, to balance them out because we’re primed for the negative.

Because it was survival. You know, it’s, it’s, you know, it’s good to avoid danger more than reaching for the reward for the ways that’s how our ancestors didn’t get wiped out. Anyway, so you have the benefit of the doubt when you’re building that rapport and that’s absolutely crucial. So that when someone goes, I don’t know, I’m suspicious. Instead they go, oh, that’s not like Nicole. I’m sure it’s just something, you know, they ascribe it to circumstances, not character. Because humans, you know, and having difficult conversations and tricky interactions, and particularly where there’s low trust, and all these sort of things tend to suddenly see, we see patterns. We’re a pattern recognition machine, but it’s from the, but again, it’s from what’s in the back there, how we filter it through our beliefs and whatnot. And when there’s low trust, and there’s low or no or low rapport, we go, oh, we go to bad places. We go, oh, that’s them.

They’re not trustworthy. They’re not reliable. They’re not this, there not that. So again, all of these things come right back to. It’s all about communications, starting up all rolling a better rapport better interactions, also where you’re learning more, because when people are more comfortable with having that rapport, they’re giving you more information. I mean, that’s crucial for negotiation, but even just in entertain conversations, you go, oh, I didn’t know you cover that before. Oh, yeah. And then suddenly, you’re like, oh, wait, could you actually give me some because you’ve, you’ve, you’ve dealt with this before. So people are as much more freer exchange of information ideas, greater value creation is a lot easier. But also problem solving is a lot easier, because you’re not reinventing the wheel the whole time, because people are communicating freely. I’ll pause there. I was going a bit too energetic there, Nicole. Sorry.

Nicole: I’m all about being vibrant and energized.

Alistair: You’re all about the vibrance.

Nicole: I am. What would the world be like if everybody loved communication as much as Al McBride? It would be an amazing planet. Right? So I’m all about it. Okay, so I just again, I just want to say that, you know, we’re talking about rapport. It’s kind of like the linchpin to getting the negotiation going. A couple of little bits of genius float out of you, let me repeat them back to everybody. One was, you know, number one, you have to have the right attitude to approaching the situation that you’re in, and then you can figure out what key words, key sentences, questions, lines, you would use, that I bet Al has in his Goliath Method, right? Like, here’s a great thing.

Alistair: Yeah, exactly. It’s more as you say, it’s about tapping into genuinely what, what you’re trying to do. And then the you don’t have to remember what was I meant to say, or what was the line I was going to use?

Nicole: Right. Because you can’t script a negotiation, can you?

Alistair: No, yeah, it’s totally, it’s like a, an improvised process, where the other side is like, a sport game where you know, you can only control what you do, or your team to a certain extent, you can’t even control your team. Like they’re going to do things that you don’t quite expect. But going back to just being you yeah, if the other person are doing a different thing, you’re creating this thing together, you know, that’s why it’s scary. That’s why it’s nervous. But what it also can be quite brilliant.

Nicole: Absolutely, yeah. And so and what I, what I kind of did is I was starting to make a little diagram based on what you were saying. So like, there’s rapport, we find common ground, we experience the other person, and then we have trust. So I’ll say that, again, we we start to build rapport with our positive attitude, we find common ground, we experience the other person, we don’t fall into the assumption trap. And then we begin to do the process. So talk a little bit about your Goliath Method. And, and maybe a little bit about, you know, some some leaders might be like, I guess I do negotiate. But like if we’re specific, what are the what are the three things leaders negotiate all the time? Or maybe the six things? What are they? What what are we negotiating all the time in business?

Alistair: I suppose that goes back to a few elements that we started with, which were about this idea of tasks versus people. I mean, it is kind of a theme that runs through it. But what I’m talking about now is that if you have okay, if you’re a leader, you can just say we’re doing this, like from the visionary leader, and, and you don’t particularly care if people are on board or not, because they should be on board, this kind of thing. But in this work environment, this is not in the 1960s where people were are in jobs for life. We all know people change jobs, and much more frequently than ever before. This is also an expectation that I’m not stuck here. You know, even in a bad economy, I can be gone.

So I need all these different needs met. So I need to feel regarded. I need to feel respected. So that if you are making a decision, what are the what great leaders tend to do is they create a win win, like a feeling that. Let me tell you a quick story about an old boss of mine, I was an art dealer. I was an art dealer back in the day when, because I did psychology and art history. And I went initially the art route and then back into psychology route. But anyway, I was an art dealer in a gallery. And I remember my boss was, I learned so much from him. He was amazing, because I would have loads of innovative ideas, you know, like, what we could do this? Or how about we could do that. And I sort of work out the idea, and then I’d bring him the idea.

And I love this because half the time more than half the time, he’d say no. And a lot of managers go, no, we’re not doing that. No, we can’t do that. And then need to go, okay, what am I contribute? Now I’m using like, a really narrow example. But the point is, contributions are trying to be made, but they’re largely dismissed, or there’s not an acknowledgement. There’s not what what they call in psychology, emotional payments. I mean, an emotional payment at its base is, you know, if you’re being served in a restaurant, you just meet the eyes of the server. And not, you know, that’s just a human acknowledgement that level up two signs of appreciation. Oh, thanks very much, or, oh, that was good work, or oh, yeah, I really like how you did this. That was, you know, these are emotional payments, where people go over things where they feel in some level, acknowledged, at base, appreciated or even admired at really high up, right.

So you want to be hitting something in there. So that, again, it’s using your team to their strengths, but even when you’re not, that they feel appreciated like this boss, as I said, I used to bring him these things, but they always he would always, always tell me, why. Because like, oh, I really like this part. We can’t because of this thing that you’re not aware of, or this decision that we’ve had to made for bigger policy reasons or whatever. I go, ahh, okay, great. Now I can kind of see, so I’m not thrilled that it wasn’t used, but I feel great. I feel treated like an adult, I feel appreciated. I feel like I’ve learned that I’ve almost grown. And but then but it was in a really positive way. So it was like an incredibly positive no.

The most positive no, you could ever hear. And so that’s what I’m talking by, but by by a leader using the team, so even when they’re disagreeing, that they’re still feeling I mean, you’re they’re still feeling appreciated, and, and that their contributions are not just welcomed, but valued. And this I mean, you talk about culture, this is one of the key things in culture, where they make huge strides. I mean, I’m sure you know, this, Nicole, but a lot of the listeners might not. But it is exactly that, that in high performing teams that they have a huge amount of what’s called task conflict. Oh, how does that I don’t think that’ll work. And they’re talking about the nitty gritty of what you know, strategy to use, or what system to buy, or whatever the issue is they’re dealing with, but they have extremely low relationship conflict.

Why? Because those aspects of rapport and respect are there, that the ideas are acknowledged. And when arguments are made against one person’s perspective or another, it doesn’t get personal, it stays on that object. And again, that’s crucial for negotiation, those key negotiation. So, I mean, that’s at CEO level. At executive level, then you’re fighting for resources all the time. I’ve never heard anyone say, oh, I haven’t. I have plenty of budget and too many people. I don’t think I’ve ever heard that. Right. It’s they’re always have like, oh, you know, they’re always tight on time, or their tight on budget, or the they’re tight on something or everything. So it’s, it’s, it’s making that story, understanding.

So if you’re talking to the board that you need X amount of resources or your boss, you need X amount of resources, it’s creating that story, knowing what from their perspective, what they need to hear, and to help facilitate what you need. Right? And how does my request help you win? You know, so okay, I’m asking you for this extra person or for this extra two weeks on this project, or whatever it is. But how does that serve you? You know, and it’s immediately thinking in terms of how does this person win from my request? And that’s total negotiation, right? But a lot of people in those situations go I don’t really negotiate. It’s like you’re negotiating all the time! If you’re discussing with your spouse like, what to watch on Netflix, you’re probably negotiating, right?

Nicole: Yeah, well, you just laid down a very good question. I didn’t want people to gloss over it. So a big part, I think of negotiation is asking the right questions and asking questions that create a climate of discovery. Okay, so I just want to say that, that that’s important. But you said, perspective is so important. Now, this is this is the really powerful question you want to ask before when you’re sitting quietly before you get into the negotiation. Before you’re the executive and you walk in and you lay down what it is you want everybody to do, or you’re the CEO and you’re giving your direction. You want to you want to answer this question that Al put out. How does this person win from my request?

See, that little bit of genius just popped out of him. And I’m going to tell you that is a great question. You should write it on paper and hang it up in your office. Because when you consider the other person’s perspective, instead of just your own, that’s, that’s going to really illuminate or light up, make your brain vibrant, about what needs to go down and inside this. And you also said it has to be a win win, people have to feel regarded, they have to feel respected and not dismissed in the process. So lots of genius right there. So I love all that. Okay, so talk then about how the Goliath Method works. Is there like steps? Process? Structure to it?

Alistair: Yeah, absolutely. The Goliath Negotiation Method. I mean, it’s called Goliath, because that’s often what I even when I was brought into people who were working for huge companies, there’s always a bigger fish. And that was usually part of the issue that they were in the David role in the classic Goliath, David Goliath saga. I mean, the David Goliath thing, just to say, you know, it’s not literal, I don’t mean that you should attack your, your opposition.

Nicole: You don’t need a sling shot, okay.

Alistair: But it is it is, you know, it is the it’s the age old metaphor for, you know, for the underdog, right. It’s the underdog story. And that’s kind of what it’s about. And the whole point is that it’s about resourcefulness, not resources. You know, resourcefulness is a it’s a characteristic. Whereas resources are more of a physical thing with actual limitations. And that that’s kind of the point was, David essentially brought a gun to a knife fight and didn’t play by the giant’s rule. Like, why would you play by the opposition’s strengths? Like that was just that would be daft. So and so there was that level of creative thinking and breaking the mold of what should be done and they like this was happened about 3000 years ago or something, it still everybody knows it across cultures, it’s amazing, because it was biblical story. But, but the Goliath Negotiation Method works on that.

So we start, you know, it’s five major zones, but we work through by getting you psychologically more prepared. So a lot of people who do negotiate, have, you know, the general negotiation stuff, which is great, and I integrate that as well. But as I say, usually when I work in corporates, I my my courses are called the psychological edge in negotiation. It’s essentially a lot of similar points. And what the basis is, is getting yourself mentally and emotionally prepared for the negotiation. A lot of people forget, because a lot of this is a lot of the in the process is what it called performing under pressure, or resilience, training, resilience skills, so that you’re able to manage your emotions, because it’s a very emotionally fraught thing you’re, you’re trying to work at how far you can push and how to react when you get pushed, and, and all these little surprises that are popping up.

So it can be quite tricky experience. So there’s a lot about centering yourself. A lot about being able to, to master your emotions, because the more that you can master your emotional states, the less influence they have on you. And the more that you can influence their thinking and their behavior, all in an ethical and very constructive way, of course. But it’s also being able to counter a lot of maybe less ethical maneuvers that are made against you. More emotionally manipulative maneuvers. And so there is a lot on that about how to actually handle yourself and handle those tricky, emotional situations and difficult conversations you might say. So again, a lot of these principles are also very, very helpful, and they double up for managing people. And again, that’s managing whether it’s up, down, across, managing with no authority, you know, and all the rest of it.

But after we start to get my client sort of more emotionally prepared, and prepared by, again, going into the, what’s the mindset of other. And I have lots of steps for people to do that, to get into that hypothesis of really working out, what’s the probable needs of this? What’s the probable fears that they have? And then how might we actually maneuver them to where I want to bring them, where we’re making a mutually beneficial, highly valuable deal, or agreement of some sort. And next, we add the creative element. Now, all of these areas you kind of do on your own, and then you do the more dynamically with the other side, but it’s huge because there’s so much potential value to be added to a deal than a simple transaction. And people forget about this. You know, even whether it’s, you know, doing a job interview, you know, where you’re negotiating terms.

There’s so many different factors that can come into play between, you know, okay, there’s the salary, but then there’s the wage, salary, then there’s the pension contributions, potentially. There’s stock options, there’s days leave, there’s working in the place working remotely, then there’s all sorts of other benefits like allowances for training your team, there’s allowances for you know, travel or whatever it is you want you think you need. There’s all sorts of different ways for maneuvering that and creating value. And I work people through a process, which is all about, what can I give that’s of high perceived value of the other side, but of low cost, to me. Now cost in terms of, you know, time money effort, whatever way you want to ascribe that cost. And equally, what can they give me, that’s of high value to me, but of low cost to them.

And when you start bringing in those elements, you’re adding all these unique differentiators to the deal that you’re creating that if you’re if this is a commercial kind of larger deal between companies or whatever, you’ve just create a differentiation, that your competitors can’t easily match. Now maybe some of them, they can, but a lot of them are unique to you, you know. So that you’ve kind of insulated the deal from other people interference. Or indeed, if it’s more interpersonal stuff within a company that you’ve actually just created more value where the other people, it’s more unique, and it’s more appreciated. And from there, as I said, then we actually go into how to deal with it in the real, the real dynamic negotiation of the stress they’re in, and how to handle that live with feedback loops, and all that sort of stuff. And then how to close the deal, how to how to tie things up. And part of that, then, is the review process. What what went well, what didn’t. If things start getting, if there’s friction down the line, as often is, how to, how to deal with that.

And the last thing I’d say is also having that implementer mindset versus deal maker mindset. Deal maker mindset is important, that you want to close the deal, you want to get it over the line, very important. But, one of the big problems is people do that at the expense of how is this going to work in reality. Because often, with big, with big companies doing big deals, the people doing the deal aren’t the ones having to deal with the consequences. And the amount of times I’ve gone into places where people are renegotiating a big mess, because it was all about that they had the wrong KPIs, it has nothing to do with how the same is actually gonna work in person. But again, you can bring that down to the team level. Is this actually doable? You know, what we’ve what we’re trying to work out in this little agreement that we have between us. So I’ll pause there, but that, but just give you a quick overview of some of the process that I bring people through and some of the, hopefully some of the benefits as well.

Nicole: Yeah, so I want to repeat it back. And but I want to give you full permission to correct and clarify as we go along. So you know, the first thing that you need to do in a negotiation, is get yourself psychologically prepped. Mentally and emotionally, work on your resilience skills, learn to manage your emotions, get centered, and learn how to really, I think, basically understand that people can be ugly in negotiation. So get your head in the game that that can come your way. And then what are you going to do when things get ugly, counter the manipulation things.

Alistair: Just to dive on one second to add again, it goes back to the task versus people, because a lot of people particularly they, you know, they want to be social, they want to be liked, it’s a natural thing, right? But they try and be friends in the negotiation. That can come afterwards. Don’t like you know, that you have to be prepared to stand up for yourself first, or if you’re on behalf of others for for the cause, for the what’s the purpose, the why you have here? And that’s what you go in with. Not, with your ego going, oh, what if they like me? You know, sorry, I just wanted out there, so please, continue.

Nicole: No, I love that. I love that. And then the second part was to figure out what is of high perceived value to them, but low cost to me. Meaning time, money, resources, and then the flip side. Right? Then number three, look at the feedback loops. I just like a little like, talk about feedback loops for just a moment. That’s definitely communication talk. So talk a little bit about that.

Alistair: It is and it isn’t. I mean, it’s you know, the faster you can get information out or get something out to have information come back to you that you can tweak and adjust your course. You know, the faster you’ll get where you’re going. I mean, you know, or the faster you learn. I mean, that’s what learning is. You know, that’s why Google is amazing, because they have millions of feedback loop as to was this link successful? Yes, people stayed on the site longer. No, this one’s not and so it’s continually adjusting. And that’s why it has a fast feedback loop. You know, that’s, that’s why it’s continually so useful. But interpersonally yeah, when you’re talking between people, yeah. You’re, you say something as a little hypothesis, and you see oh, yeah, no, that’s totally the case.

Oh, no, that’s not totally the case at all. Okay, change that. That wasn’t accurate at all. And so you’re adapting all the time. But it’s the again, it’s that, I suppose it is a mindset. It’s that attitude, that where you come to it, noticing the back and forth. This is why like a lot of like, I, as you mentioned, I lecture in, in masters course, and coaching. And this is the coaching skills. So as one of my students, you know, you’re essentially training negotiators coaching skills, because that I mean, not not solely, there’s a lot of the innovation stuff, a lot of other stuff, but that’s the core of it. And that’s that feedback loop that you’re, you’re listening just not to, not to sound smart, when you when you reply, we are listening to understand. It’s easier said than done, because people are always waiting to like, what do I say to them.

Nicole: And that’s what I do on this podcast. So that’s what I’m going to highlight. So I stop and I say, this is what I heard you say. Please clarify if I don’t get it right. All right. Yeah, so I just want to make sure you guys understand what a feedback loop is. And it is coaching and it is, you know, slowing things down. So everybody is resonating with what’s being said, it’s not just, you know, flowing over the top of them, you know, like I, you know, I kind of liken it to like, you know, I can go to the beach, and I can ride the wave. But you know, where I’m really, you know, alert, alive is like when I’m fighting the wave to get out there, you know, and then I let the wave take me, that’s the fun part when I just let the wave take me. But feedback loop, I have done this number three, and that is a great definition. And then you said number four was close the deal. Right? So negotiation does have a sensibility of, you know, sales around it. But that is basically bringing bringing things to an agreement. Would you agree with that? Okay. Okay. And then number five, which I think is so oh, my gosh, so important. And maybe you can tell me because I can’t think of what it’s called right now, Al. But it were you review what just happened? A lot of people are like, we got this done. We’re on to the next thing. And you’re saying wait, stop. Let’s review what just happened?

Alistair: A debrief, or a post mortem. I actually have people do a pre mortem, and a post mortem. The pre mortem, is so that you’re sketching out from a different perspective of what you presume everything’s gone wrong. And you go, why, and it gives your brain license to think very bad things. But that alerts, a lot of possibilities where you go, oh, I never thought of that. Now, most of them, you’ll know and most of them you kind of can deal with, but there’s often a few that are like, oh, we didn’t think of that. Or, you know, so I have a whole process you can work people through. But after the meeting, then you do the post mortem, where you go or a debrief, it could also be called, where you go, what went well. You could do the traffic light system.

What do you what are you going to do more of what was about right? And what should you do less of? Just as a simple way of gauging your own to try and get in on again, feedback loop of reflection. One of the things that executives have the least time for and leave out the most is reflection. What is a reflection, but it’s a feedback loop. Right? And this is also a reason why people often don’t learn from their mistakes, because they don’t actually take a moment to reflect on well, okay, what aspect of this thing was it that didn’t, ahh, it was this aspect? Okay, I got, and then you’re less likely to make the mistake again, but people oh, I don’t have time for that. I’m too busy rushing everywhere. As modern life is, you know. So yeah, reflection as a debrief. Doing a little bit of post mortems can help a lot.

Nicole: Yeah. And I wanted to throw out I want to clarify and make sure you got it. He said the stoplight. So there’s what are we going to start doing, stop doing and continue doing so that that’s what he’s got right there. So I didn’t want you to miss that. That was another little. And I love, I’m all about strategy systems and smarts, any little thing you can teach me that I can kind of get in there and an easy way. The stop light. I love that, okay. And then the last thing you said which and I think you may be just coming off of this with your with your own ingenious brain, but I heard you say you need to be the dealmaker, but you also have to think like an implementer which is making me think of the book, Traction.

Alistair: Ah, yeah, I have read Traction a few years when it came out. I didn’t put the two and two together but yeah, I suppose it is, yeah. No, I mean, I wasn’t my term. It’s known in negotiation stuff. So yeah.

Nicole: Okay. Yeah. So be the implementer. And, and you and you said this really smart thing, because you’re probably in a negotiation because of your level in the organization, your authority, you’re the owner, whatever. But then you have to have people carry out everything you’re putting in this deal. And so you have to think about you have to be the COO, right? How will we operate this deal? I think that’s huge.

Alistair: There’s a simple test which is bring in the consult with the people who are actually going to be doing this on a weekly basis, or whatever it is, you know. Again, it’s not rocket science, and you can’t avoid every problem. But you will be amazed the amount of people, this is particularly in IT, I see this in IT all the time. The sales guys go and deliver this amazing presentation. And they promise this promise and promise that. And then the most used tactic against sellers is just one more thing.

As in we’re about to sign, just one more thing. It’s the most successfully used tactic against sellers. And so they go, oh, can you just throw this thing in? Or, you know, give us a discount on that part? And they go, well, yeah, to do it. But they don’t know what they’ve just given away. And so often, they’ve literally slashed the profit margin by 20%, or even 50%. You know, because they’ve added like, 200 or 3000, developer hours, with one little oh yeah, because they don’t know. Because they’re not the ones who actually have to deliver, you know. See it all the time.

Nicole: Yeah, well, that just made me think about it. When is it appropriate to bring, like, a person with expertise from IT, or HR, or manufacturing, or whatever, you know, from the frontlines of manufacturing into the process? Do you ever, you know, bring a witness to the process? You know, is that a thing?

Alistair: It depends is the simple answer, but my, as a general rule, I would say, regularly and often. Why talk to them once, you know. Talk to them, when you’re hypothesizing your plan of action, talk to them after the first meeting. And then if they’re needed, if you think there actually will be a benefit of bringing them into the process where they can actually ask and contribute and do it live at the meeting, then bring them in. I mean, if it’s important to do that probably should be a priority, there, particularly if it affects them down the line, that they won’t hate you for wanting to wanting to to get their input, you know. So, but again, it’s situation dependent.

Nicole: Absolutely. All right, well, here’s what we’ve covered today, everybody. We’ve talked about from the get go, the difference between leadership and management and what my big takeaway is, you know, leaders got to manage the task and the people. And then we got into the value of communication. And then he just laid down his Goliath method for us. So I am just eternally grateful for all of this great information. If there was one special listener that wanted like one more little nugget from Al McBride, like, don’t you know, what would the nugget that you would lay down? Something that they could really put to work this week in their work and in their negotiations. What would you leave us with?

Alistair: There’s a few different ones. It’s hard to hard to think of one, but I suppose if I have to give one, it’s being absolutely crystal clear on your purpose. And again, it’s these are fundamentals, Nicole. You know, these are what everyone. Oh, yeah I know that I know why I’m here. Do you? Like, you know, so. And this is for any interaction. This is like, what is my purpose in doing this job and, and go five whys deep, at least. So, why are you doing this job? To get money. It’s like, yeah, why are you doing this job? It’s like, oh, well, because it’s in this field. And I vaguely want to go, why, why? And keep asking why until you feel like you really can’t go much further. It’s absolutely crucial when you’re talking to other people, is knowing what you want first, because when you actually have that clarity, then you have a much better clarity of how your request or your instruction, depending on your level, actually does fit when you then start thinking into what the other side might be thinking.

But so many people don’t even do it clearly for themselves first. Now, I get there’s still a huge amount of adaptability with, well, I don’t exactly know what I want. But having kind of a feeling for why you want it, that can give you a huge amount of adaptability, and freedom and flexibility and strengths. And it saves you a whole lot of time too you know. So that would probably be I know, that might be a bit esoteric, it might be a bit airy fairy to some but be crystal clear on your purpose. It’s much easier to deliver on that purpose, you know, in a very dynamic way.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Another way to say it is just be clear on the mission ahead. What are we exactly trying to get done right? And when you mentioned the five whys that’s not that’s that’s not woowoo or just you know, nefarious or whatever. But the five whys is actual project management you can find it in the pmbok, right you know the professional book of project management book of knowledge right is the pmbok. So you can find it in there that is an actual exercise so everybody go look that up google it, you’ll find 1000 things on the five whys. Well, Al McBride. I am so excited that you came on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast and as soon as the book gets done, I want to be the one that interviews you about the book and we’ll dive a little deeper. Do you pinky promise we’ll do that? We’ll talk about the book?

Alistair: Definitely. Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much, Nicole, it’s been great. Great this evening. I rambled on way too much, sorry. I tried to bring the vibrancy, you know, I tried to bring the energy so I mean, I usually am pretty energetic but I wanted to give give as much of that vibrancy as you could handle.

Nicole: No, I loved it. I loved every minute of it. But tell everyone where they can find you. Where can everybody find you, and then we’ll sign off.

Alistair: Simple thing is I have my podcast is linked there. You can find the podcast Dealing with Goliath on all good places that you find your podcasts and the deeds feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. Or just look for me. Al McBride or Alistair McBride, A L I S T A I R. That’s why I reduce it to Al because people misspell Alistair so much. And just yeah reach out, say hello, and engage, communicate.

Nicole: Absolutely. And if you can’t find him, call me. I’ll get you hooked up. Thanks for being on the Build a Vibrant Culture podcast. We’ll talk to you next time.

Alistair: It’s been a pleasure. Thanks, Nicole.

Voiceover: Ready to build your vibrant culture? Bring Nicole Greer to speak to your leadership team, conference or organization to help them with her strategies, systems and smarts to increase clarity, accountability, energy and results. Your organization will get lit from within. Email And be sure to check out Nicole’s TEDx talk at

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