Prepare for a Negotiation, But Don’t Knock Yourself Out

Prepare for a Negotiation, But Don’t Knock Yourself Out

We at Mobus Creative Negotiating stress the importance of being prepared for a negotiation: learning about the other side, thinking about your strategy, and practicing.  That is good advice.  But as often in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.

Margaret Heffernan

In particular, do not make overwork yourself.  Japanese has a word for death by overwork (karoshi).  The tragedy is that such overwork is bad for productivity, not just bad for your physical and mental health. A recent article by Margaret Heffernan in the Financial Times points out how working long hours often dulls the mind, impeding creativity.  Being alert and open to possibilities can be much more important for a successful deal than whatever you gain from an extra hour of research or practice.

Extra hours at work can lead to poor decisions which then require hours more work to reverse.  When tired, we can be grumpy towards others, which can lead to ruffled feathers that are more of a problem than anything we were hoping to accomplish during those extra hours of work. As Heffernan writes, “thinking is a physical activity, performed by the brain — which, like every organ, has limits to its capacity…. If we want creativity, originality and mastery of complex problems, we must accept the physical limitations of the human brain.”

negotiation prep

So yes, prepare well for a negotiation – but not by working yourself to the bone.  If time is limited and you do not have as much support from your colleagues as you had hoped, accept these realities rather than trying to compensate by working 100 hours a week.  You will in fact perform better if you are in good shape, mentally and physically, rather than exhausted.