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Triune Brain: improving purchasing Negotiations

Understanding how our brains work can simplify the way we negotiate or positively transform our interactions with other people.

The concept of the Triune Brain, developed in the 60’s, broadens our knowledge of this body, still so little understood, and offers the opportunity for development in the work environment, including for the purchasing professional – always involved in negotiations connected with several different interlocutors.

What is the Triune Brain, anyway?

The Triune Brain is a model formulated by neurosurgeon Paul D. MacLean based on the division of the human brain into three distinct regions, and organizing itself in a hierarchy based on its evolution. The regions are:

1. Primal or Reptilian Brain

As the name suggests, this brain part is also found in reptiles and controls the body’s vital functions, and is also responsible for our survival instincts. It warns us, for example, of our basic functions such as when we are hungry, cold, hot or thirsty.

Located in the brain stem, in the place where the spinal cord accesses the skull, the primitive (or inferior) brain governs our five primary feelings: anger, sadness, joy, disgust and surprise.

In a situation of danger the reptilian structure is awakened, releasing chemical substances to act instinctively, in defense of our self-preservation. When we lean our hand on a hot pot, for example, the automatic reaction is to push it away immediately – we act without thinking, something common when this brain is in charge.

But, besides primitive impulses, this brain is also related to habits and procedural memory, like getting into the car and starting to drive automatically, without having to think about every step that involves this action. The repetition leads to the recognition that the action is safe.

2. Limbic or Emotional Brain

Its location is exactly above the reptilian brain, that is, right in the middle of the Central Nervous System. The limbic (or middle) brain is the center of our emotions, memory and motivation.

By being activated it can raise the heart rate, increase oxygen consumption, preparing our body to fight or escape from some situation it perceives as dangerous. It can also trigger stress, one of the biggest problems faced in the workplace – whether at the office or working from home.

When we receive a disturbing message or see shocking news, for example, the limbic system is triggered, leading to an emotional experience before the occurrence.

3. Rational or Intelligent Brain

The intelligent brain is a younger cerebral part, constituted by the neocortex, and is responsible for all the conscious activities of superior order: language, reasoning, imagination, creativity, abstract thought, etc.

Located just behind the forehead, the rational (or superior) brain also concentrates a good part of our biographical and automatic memory – essential so that we can talk, write or calculate, among other actions. Responding to the perception of time and context, inhibition of inappropriate actions, generates understanding and empathy, and thus governs the way we conduct our interpersonal relationships and allows us to live in society.

That is, in any situation in which we use our reason the intelligent brain is activated, without involving other brain structures. A good example is when we face professional challenges, and seek the best solutions for each situation.

However, it is important to stress, the rational brain can go offline in threatening situations (real or imaginary), giving way to the limbic system, the first to respond when the goal is to maintain our security.

Triune Brain can improve purchasing negotiations

The concept of the Triune Brain can be used to improve the performance of the purchasing sector because, just as it is possible to develop essential skills for the professional to act in the digital age, it is also possible to better understand the functioning of this system to improve the work routine, as well as to obtain a better negotiation.

Well studied and applied, it can become a form of self-knowledge and be used to “map” better the people with whom we relate – in personal and professional life – even at the moment of negotiation.

As we have seen, our rational (or intelligent) brain is responsible for governing our behavior rationally, inhibiting the primitive impulses of our reptilian brain whenever they arise and prove inadequate.

If during a negotiation a primitive feeling arises, such as anger, for example, it is a sign that the reptilian brain is in command, giving flow to the irrational side.

It is worth remembering that we all carry emotional histories that can be unintentionally awakened by another person. Like the feeling of sadness or joy that comes to the surface, unconsciously, because of a gesture or perfume from someone present at the meeting – that is, many times the sensation awakened was not premeditated.

At such times the best way forward is to work on this sensation in a rational way, trying to understand why it has arisen and thinking about the harm it may offer if it is not mastered. And, of course, it must be replaced by a civilized and positive behavior, coming from the rational brain.

One way to achieve this effect is to go out for a drink of water or ask for the conversation to be postponed to another occasion – if it is possible to postpone – and especially to breathe deeply: this action better oxygenates the neocortex and helps it function.

In fact, it is always possible to make a choice: give in to the primitive impulses and desires of the reptilian brain or use the intelligent (or rational) brain to control them, and obtain the best results in personal and professional life, no matter how challenging the moment may be.

The three distinct brains, which emerged as we evolved and now coexist, do not operate independently: they influence each other. The balance between them will allow us to maintain harmonious relationships, regulate impulses and maintain the right behavior in the most varied situations – like the moment of an important negotiation in the purchasing department.

The concept of the Trine Brain comes to add to other information that can turn the game when negotiating – an essential task for the purchasing department. And exactly because it’s so important, we suggest reading our content on negotiation. Access and improve your techniques:

Advanced trading: prepare for better results

Using emotion for better negotiation

Get to know BATNA, Harvard’s advanced negotiation method

A incompatibilidade de interesses e necessidades é muito comum em negociações. Dominar técnicas de negociação, permitirá prevenir e lidar com essas situações.

Resolving conflicts in negotiation

Conflicts can arise during a negotiation and means to resolve them must be found. But what is the best strategy to achieve positive results for the negotiating parties? Check out this post and find out!

Identifying the difficulties of negotiation

We can define conflict as the lack of understanding between two (or more) parties, causing tension on at least one side involved in the negotiation process.

There are two ways of looking at conflicts when it comes to negotiation. The first is to think that it is harmful and that the people who produce it are emotionally disturbed. The other way is to see it as an opportunity to work to minimize losses and maximize gains for all.

For those who want to do well in a negotiation that involves different opinions, only the second view on the subject is possible. But before resolving a disagreement, it is necessary to know whether it is an affective or a conflict of perspective, teaches the negotiation teacher, Paulo A. Alves de Almeida (PUC/MG), who has among his students many professionals from the purchasing department.

An Affective Conflict involves interpersonal incompatibility among negotiators, making it difficult to exchange information and causing the energy of understanding to be directed towards solving people’s problems rather than seeking solutions for business.

But in a Conflict of Perspective there is a disagreement of thought among the elements that are participating in the negotiation, which is natural, after all, each individual has his own ideas and perceives reality in a particular way.

William Ury, founder of Harvard University’s School of Negotiation, says that conflict is natural and will always exist, and it is up to the negotiator to find ways to overcome it.

But the expert also says it is a mistake to believe that good negotiators are born ready. For him, to be successful in a negotiation that involves conflict is something you learn, and for that he gives the first tip: before influencing someone, you must influence and dominate yourself!

Solving conflicts in a negotiation

This is an essential point in a negotiation: the participants must be able to persuade and modify each other’s ideas. How can this be done? Follow the tips that follow – they are very useful for those working in the purchasing department.

  1. Overcome interpersonal conflict

By considering each other opponents, there is no chance for dialogue and the negotiation will not progress. The negotiator should focus on resolving the deal, preventing personal feelings from being a part of the negotiating table.

The Harvard professor says that a classic mistake in negotiation is to think that being soft on people means being soft on the problem. Or the opposite: to imagine that a firm approach to the problem requires being tough on people.

According to the expert, what successful negotiators do is separate people from the issue discussed so that they can be calm with people while remaining firm about the problem.

In addition, if you notice that other members of the group have this kind of disagreement, you cannot get involved in the situation or take sides. The best way out is to value opinions, creating space for all group members to express themselves.

When all participants have the perception that their opinions have been listened to in a respectful way, even without being adopted, there is a feeling of collective responsibility for the final decisions.

  1. Find similar points

No matter how different the opinion of people who are taking part in the negotiations is, there will always be at least one point in common. And you have to identify it before they are camouflaged by differences.

The negotiator must therefore find the similar points of the two parties and start the conversation on this item and gradually introduce the disagreements.

Another important point is to take the initiative in the negotiation because, according to experts in this field, those who have this attitude can have greater control of the situation, increasing the chances of success – those who work in the purchasing department need to know this.

  1. Know how to deal with problems

Preparing for uncomfortable situations can help the negotiator deal with them, when (and if) they happen – at such times, it is essential to control anxiety and maintain balance.

One way to overcome a conflict is to apply the active listening technique. Also known as empathetic listening or reflective listening, it consists of listening and responding to the other party in a truly understanding way, capturing not only the words (verbal language), but also their feelings, manifested by gestures, posture and even looks (non-verbal language).

Calling the person by name, using the same tone and volume to the other party and always being very polite are simple attitudes that help to establish greater interaction and closeness.

The active listening technique allows you to:

  • Increase trust and mutual respect;
  • Release emotions and reduce tension;
  • Encourage participants to disclose information;
  • Create a safe environment for problem solving.
  1. Act as a mediator

In complex negotiations, the way out for conflict resolution can be to act as a mediator. This is one of the concepts taught in the Harvard Negotiation class by Professor William Ury.

What he calls the third side is a negotiator who, even though they have interests in the issue to be resolved, manages to advocate for the interests of all. In order for this to work, however, this negotiator must be trusted from both sides, otherwise they will not be able to establish themselves as a mediator.

A well-conducted negotiation leads to the difficulties being overcome, allowing everyone to be sure in the end that they have been heard and that the decision was the best possible one for all parties.

However, it is worth noting that it is not only the result of the transaction that should be considered, but the way the process was conducted. If in the course of the transaction there was an exchange of concessions between the parties, the necessary balance was established so that everyone felt comfortable and left the process satisfied – and ready for future negotiations based on mutual respect.

If you want to know more advanced negotiation techniques, it is worth knowing other relevant tips that we have prepared to help you get the best results. Click, read and perfect your way of negotiating:

Advanced Negotiation: prepare yourself for great results
Usando a emoção para uma melhor negociação

Using emotions for a better negotiation

Our emotions influence every aspect of life. However, both in our personal and professional lives, keeping our emotions and feelings in check can be a great challenge.

When we talk about the workplace, controlling your emotions becomes fundamental in order to pursue a successful career and in some sectors it must be even greater. This is the case, for example, in the purchasing department, where negotiation processes are common, which demands a lot from professionals.

In this article, we will bring useful information to use emotions in a positive way, which helps you to have better results in negotiations in general. Check it out!

Feelings at the Negotiating Table

Until recently, emotion was considered an obstacle to reaching constructive agreements. But this concept is changing, and now it is suggested that controlling emotion in negotiation can bring positive results.

In the book Building Agreement: Using Emotions as You Negotiate, Daniel Shapiro and Roger Fisher develop the idea that it is possible for the negotiator to stimulate positive emotions and overcome negative ones by showing appreciation and valuing the other party’s membership, autonomy, status and position.

For the authors, the advantage of aknowledging and knowing how to deal with these emotional dimensions is that they can be explored with the aim of understanding each party’s expectations, helping to create a more positive bargaining environment.

As we can see, negotiating depends a lot on the influence of emotions. This is because the successful negotiator needs to have good persuasive and oratory resources, but he also needs to have the perception and control of his feelings.

Studying principles of negotiation, researchers Norbert Schwarz of the University of Michigan and Gerald Clore of the University of Virginia used the phone to ask questions about life satisfaction. Fun Fact: Half of the participants answered the question on a sunny day and the other on a rainy day.

Participants who were contacted on a rainy day showed less satisfaction with life than participants who received calls on a sunny day. But when the scholars began the conversation asking, “How is the weather there?” Participants in a rainy condition responded as positively as those who were experiencing a sunny day.

Why did this happen? Simple: by recognizing the bad weather, the respondents turned off the impact of the rain when assessing their satisfaction with life.

The study therefore demonstrated that negative emotional triggers had to be turned off before negotiations could take place.

Controlling emotions in negotiation

In general, everyone is able to control the way they express their emotions, but there is one strategy that helps to take advantage of this control: control your feelings! In this way, it will be possible to disguise or emphasize an emotion, according to need and moment.

In this aspect, it is essential to prepare in advance for the negotiation. For example, if there is a setback on the way to the meeting, or if you walk into the room and encounter someone you had a confrontational relationship with, these situations must be worked through before you begin to negotiate – that is, in practice, to deactivate the negative emotional triggers!

How to do this? Ask permission to go to the bathroom and take the opportunity to work on your breathing (take a deep, paused breath a few times), do a quick relaxation or meditation, call someone who has the ability to calm you down and give you confidence, etc.

Now, if you notice that the other side has negative emotions related to the negotiation, try to create a bridge with the source of those feelings. It is possible to identify this non-positive reaction through the individual’s speech, but also through body expression, as illustrated by FGV teachers Yann Duzert and Ana Tereza Spínola, in the area of Business Management: contracted lips and eyebrows lowered and joined (means anger), touching the nails or the eyebrow as a sign of impatience.

Questions such as “hard day?” or “how was your journey here?”, aside from creating empathy, can be the starting point to minimize the influence of negative emotions during discussions.

Harvard Business School assistant professor Alison Wood Brooks explains some of the feelings that can appear at a negotiation table: “The most common emotion to appear before the process begins or during the early stages is anxiety. We are more likely to show irritation or excitement in the heat of discussions. And disappointment, sadness or grief often appear especially in the final stages of negotiation”.

All these feelings can be controlled and taken to a more advantageous side during the negotiation process, as explained by Alison, who teaches negotiation in MBA and executive education courses and is a member of the behavioral insights group.

According to her, a useful strategy to reduce anxiety is to invite an outside expert to articulate the negotiation, as these people have less personal interest in the job and can demonstrate more controlled skills.

Anger can arise from the general tendency to view negotiations in competitive, and not collaborative terms. But this feeling, according to the teacher, is not all bad. Demonstrating anger in a controlled way can make people appear stronger and more powerful, which increases their self-confidence.

But if the tension is exaggerated, pressing the pause button is a good strategy. After calming the spirits, the meeting can be resumed in a more productive way.

However, there is a line that divides irritation from disappointment. And that second emotion can already be more damaging when demonstrated at the negotiating table. One of the factors that can cause disappointment is the very fast speed of the process, which brings the feeling that more could have been done. The most obvious way to reduce the likelihood of disappointment is to act calmly and thoughtfully and, if there are any doubts, ask pertinent questions to make sure you have explored all possible alternatives.

As for joy and excitement, Alison says that in certain situations showing these feelings can generate disappointment in the other party. The best negotiators make great deals for you, but make your opponents believe that they too have made a fabulous deal.

And so we come to the last two tips about emotions in negotiations:

  1. Have respect for others, not letting your excitement make your interlocutors feel like losers;
  2. Be skeptical and don’t let your excitement turn into overconfidence, damaging future negotiations.

Emotions are inherent to conflict and play a positive role in decision-making, creativity and relationship building, such as those involving negotiation.

Want more information on advanced negotiation techniques? Check out another article we have produced on the subject: Advanced Negotiation: Prepare yourself for great results

In doubt between suppliers? Soluparts is the solution

In doubt between suppliers? See 5 factors to help you decide

Dealing with suppliers involves numerous steps: surveys, checks, budgets and a lot of alignment meetings. The process of choosing the right supplier for your demand involves meetings, reviews, discussions and definitions, all to make sure that both sides gain in that relationship.

The first step is the actual choice of supplier. After identifying what your company needs when receiving the purchase order, it’s time to assess the possibilities. Usually, you will work with more than one viable option of supplier, and choosing the best one can be quite challenging.

The biggest mistake one can make is to choose a supplier without analyzing thoroughly all the qualities and faults of each option. Luckily, there are some key points that can help you make your decision more easily.

We set aside 5 of them, the most important factors to check before closing a deal with a supplier! Ready? Read below:

 

Price and conditions

 

Perhaps the price and terms of payment are the factors that weigh the most when choosing a supplier. Here, you must go back to your financial planning, and check if what was offered fits your budget and your needs.

Suppliers must offer a fair price for the service, but it is your role to negotiate so that the final price of your product is not compromised. Remember: a low price does not always mean low quality as well as a high price does not necessarily indicate a high level of quality. Find out what makes up this price by analyzing the quotations, and see if it makes sense.

Be beware of prices far above or far below what the market generally provides. High prices may be just a way of trading, as a margin to reduce the price to a level acceptable to the supplier. Low prices can hide abusive fees and contractual obligations.

And remember to see the expiration date of the quotation, because the price you see today may not be the same 3 weeks from now, and if you need to make the purchase next month, this quotation will be useless – and all your effort will be wasted.

 

Deadlines

 

To maintain a good relationship with suppliers, the company must set deadlines that can be met fully. Don’t forget to align your schedule with theirs, and always question whether the supplier offers a very long or very short delivery time.

You have every right to request proof of compliance with deadlines, as well as reports and statements from other customers, to have more faith in the work of the supplier.

Try to find out if the supplier has a history of unforeseen events that expand the deadlines, like accidents or shipping problems. Speaking of which, don’t forget to check the delivery options each supplier offers. Besides making a huge difference in the final price, different kinds of transport demand different deadlines, and you must be prepared for that.

 

Values

 

Partner up only with companies that work with visions and values similar to yours and that can, in some way, enrich your production. To ensure that you are not being carried away by empty words and clichés, go beyond the institutional website and look for other customers from the supplier before closing the deal.

Find out what the partnership experience was like. Be sure to confirm whether the dialogue was easy, and if the company channels were available to resolve questions and problems.

The focus here is in the supplier’s ability to provide the service you require!

 

Trustworthiness

 

Quality is non-negotiable, and this also applies to the services provided by a supplier.

By service, we mean on-time deliveries, technical support when necessary and the support of the structure as a whole. Just imagine, if a supplier delays a delivery, then your product won’t be ready in time, your sales will be hampered, and your business may suffer reprisals from the customers.

So make sure your supplier is reliable.  Check the legal and economic status of the company before closing a partnership. Request documents that demonstrate whether the supplier is indebted, facing labor proceedings or other criminal charges, and whether taxes are being paid on time. Any problem in these areas can impact your company’s image!

 

Public image

 

Speaking of image, the way the public sees your suppliers is decisive information! Like we said in the values topic, it’s important to partner up with good companies, that can enrich not only your business, but also your image.

It’s true that not every partnership will be a total win, but one cannot and must not be a total lost. To prevent that, dig in deep and find out where your possible suppliers stand on the public opinion!

You can do some research on their social media profiles, analyzing how they deal with criticism and complaints there, and also if there are any efforts towards keeping a good public image. Also, there are some websites devoted to publicizing criticism from unsatisfied customers and this is a great opportunity to check the supplier’s conduct on each situation.

Of course, there are other points you can check to make a deeper analysis on each supplier. We hope this article gives you some direction, but don’t stop here!

A nice tip is to try to choose a supplier for your company just like you do for your own personal purchases. How do you choose a store to buy from? Do you go online and look for reviews from previous customers? Do you only buy from stores that have been in business for a while?

Better yet, how do you choose someone to do a repair in your home? Everything you check before hiring this person should be checked before signing with a supplier. The care you have with your house should be extended to your company!

 

So, do you analyze any other criteria when choosing suppliers? Does your company have a special way to decide who to hire? Share with us! Leave your insights at the comments below!