130: Kwame Christian – The Power of Negotiation

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Creating a book to build and amplify your business

Bestselling author, attorney, and speaker, Kwame Christian, is the Director of the American Negotiation Institute and a respected voice in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution. Christian has conducted workshops throughout North America and abroad and is a highly sought after national keynote speaker

The host of the world’s most popular negotiation podcast, Negotiate Anything, Kwame is dedicated to empowering professionals through the art and science of negotiation and persuasion. Downloaded almost 2 million times, Negotiate Anything has a dedicated and growing following with listeners in more than 180 countries around the world.

Kwame’s TEDx Dayton talk, Finding Confidence in Conflict, was the most popular TEDx Talk on the topic of conflict in 2017 and has been viewed over 150,000 times. His book, Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life, is an Amazon Best-Seller and has helped countless individuals overcome the fear, anxiety, and emotion often associated with difficult conversations through a branded framework called Compassionate Curiosity.™

What We Discuss with Kwame Christian:

  • The commitment to writing a book
  • Prepping for his TED Talk
  • Becoming the voice of negotiation
  • The Compassionate Curiosity Framework
  • Leveraging the book to grow your business
  • How to deal with difficult conversations
  • The re-socialization period and conflict as an opportunity

[02:24] The Commitment to Writing a Book

A book is an effective branding tool you could use, making it easier for people to appreciate and understand how you can be an expert in your field.

Writing a book is a transformative process. 

Writing a book is not only a great opportunity for you to hone your thoughts, but it lets you go through a process where you get to transform yourself along the way.

You never get done with your book because you’re constantly going to be learning new things. You’re going to be growing and experiencing new things. And it’s going to change the way you see the world and change the way you see the content. 

As Kwame was doing the TED talk, he realized he had to write a book to make sure those ideas just weren’t lost. So as he was creating the notes for the TED talk, he also set aside things for the book. Writing his book and writing for his talk both complemented each other in the way each was created.

[11:05] Becoming the Voice of Negotiation

Kwame remembers nobody wanting to play with him as a kid and he was just bawling and tears were flowing down his eyes. And then as he went inside, the teacher saw him crying and asked him what happened. That day, he went home and told himself it will never happen again. He will never feel that way again. So he went on a friendship offensive. He decided he was going to be the nice guy that everybody likes. 

By the end of grade school and high school, he was always the most popular kid in school. He was always a people-pleaser and he worked really hard to get those friendships. Whenever any conflict would come up, he would just let it go. He was constantly compromising himself, who he was, and what he believed in. When he got to college, he realized it wasn’t the way to go. 

There are a lot of people who are out there who do struggle with people-pleasing.

About 70% of the book is straight psychology, helping you to overcome those psychological and emotional barriers because most books don’t tell you how to do that. They assume that you will do what they say you should do in the book. 

You shouldn’t give recipes to people who are afraid to get in the kitchen.

We have to address those internal negotiations with yourself to make sure that you have that internal foundation of confidence to then execute when the time is right. 

[16:23] The Compassionate Curiosity Framework

Instead of going through an encyclopedic approach of all the different skills, you could use, Kwame gave a single tool called The Compassionate Curiosity Framework which you could effectively use at work or at home.

The Compassionate Curiosity Framework is a simple, three-part framework that helps you in all of your difficult conversations. 

  1. Acknowledge and validate emotions. 
  2. Get curious with compassion. 
  3. Joint problem-solving. 

[19:04] Leveraging the Book to Grow Your Business

Make sure you know what the person would get after reading the book. Then clearly align your message with your brand strategy. Writing a book gives you credibility.  It’s something that puts you above the crowd. Being a bestselling book, it makes it easier for Kwame to convince people that he knows what he’s talking about.

[25:54] How to Deal with Difficult Conversations

Topics like race, politics, and religion are very difficult. They are tied strongly to identity that things could get heated instantly. The Compassionate Curiosity Framework is a perfect tool for these types of conversations. It’s designed to address the emotional challenges upfront. 

The reality is you’re most likely not going to persuade somebody.  And certainly, you’re not going to persuade them if you don’t understand them. If they don’t feel like you understand where they’re coming from, then they’re not going to adjust their position. And they’re not going to try to understand you either. As a result, they are just going to defend themselves. 

If we can just learn how to have these conversations at a higher level, we’re going to do our part in creating a more cohesive society. 

The truth is, we agree on most things, we just don’t talk about most things. We talk about those things that we don’t agree on. And if we can learn how to love and respect each other’s differences, we can get along and move forward. 

[29:32] The Re-socialization Period

Ultimately, there’s going to be a re-socialization period once we go back to a time when we can do face-to-face. We’re going to have to learn to interact with each other.

We forget that social skills are learned through and then maintained through practice. Unfortunately, a lot of people are going to be out of practice. And when it comes to these difficult conversations, the approach shifts slightly. 

If you’re not aware of those particular challenges for the particular platforms, you’re going to bring the wrong approach to the wrong platform. You have to understand the platform’s strengths and weaknesses to make sure you’re bringing the right strategy at the right time.

[32:21] Conflict as an Opportunity

Conflict is an opportunity. And that’s really up to your creativity. It’s an opportunity to learn, to strengthen a relationship, to rebuild a relationship, an opportunity, or to solve a problem. In other words, possibilities are endless. 

The best things in life are on the other side of difficult conversations.  

Start to think through an opportunity framework so you can move toward these conversations and have them wholeheartedly.

Episode Resources:

Get to know more about Kwame Christian at American Negotiation Institute

Kwame’s books: 

Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life

Nobody Will Play with Me: How to Use Compassionate Curiosity to Find Confidence in Conflict

Watch Kwame’s TEDTalk on Finding Confidence in Conflict:

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