Why Leaders with Disabilities Bring a Secret Weapon to the Negotiating Table

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When you are in the middle of the negotiation process with a potential client or future business partner, the tools in your personal arsenal play a crucial role in the outcome of the agreement.

As a manager with a disability, you have unique skills and beliefs that others in your organization are unlikely to share. Because of the physical or mental obstacles you’ve faced with your condition, you possess a combination of distinctive qualities that you can use to close the deal in a way that’s beneficial to all parties.

Here are three useful qualities to bring to the negotiating table as a leader with disabilities:

Ingenuity: Necessity is the mother of invention

In negotiations, it is sometimes difficult to find solutions that satisfy everyone involved. As a leader with a disability, you’re used to jumping through hoops in your own life, so you’re able to bring clever ideas to the table that others might not consider.

Living with a disability means you’ve probably had to find different and creative ways to complete projects. For example, a visual or hearing impairment may make it difficult to manage your email inbox; However, through research that your able-bodied colleagues may not have had to do, you have found software that simplifies certain tasks by acting as your eyes or ears. If you have a condition like ADHD, you may have learned to use tools like that tomato technique to increase your efficiency.

Your disability has required you to be imaginative and think outside the box. If you find solutions quickly, your company will stand out in negotiations.

This character trait allows you to quickly evaluate alternative options that a customer may not be able to see for themselves. When you’re in the middle of negotiations and the client is reluctant to enter into a formal contract, the creative solutions you come up with will increase their confidence in you.

Related: 3 ways leaders with disabilities can use their resources to excel

Positivity: Find the silver lining

Echoing customer hesitation, it is not uncommon for certain parties to the transaction to appear unwilling to honor their terms. A positive attitude can serve you well by relieving tension and leading to a mutually beneficial outcome.

While positivity isn’t limited to a leader with a disability, if your condition means you’ve had to adopt a different lifestyle than your peers, chances are you’re a glass-half-full type. For example, if you have a condition such as epilepsy, you may not be able to drive. However, you have chosen to push ahead and search for ridesharing opportunities in your area like above and Elevator. Or maybe you’ve connected to a social group where you can use carpooling.

Instead of obsessing over your challenges, you have learned to see the positive in every situation – a character trait that translates well into your professional life. Perhaps you are negotiating rates with a potential business partner and the conversation is not going as smoothly as you had hoped. Unwilling to cut certain costs of their services, they instead offer additional perks to sweeten the deal. It’s easy to get frustrated in a situation like this and let that frustration end the negotiations without anyone feeling satisfied. However, as someone who has overcome many hurdles, you understand the importance of seeing the silver lining. Maybe that extra benefit they offer is something you would have bought anyway.

A smile on your face and a positive attitude throughout the negotiation process – even when things don’t go as you imagined – will have a positive impact on you and your business as a whole. The other person will feed off of your energy, leading to a better outcome for everyone involved.

See also: 5 ways employees with disabilities help maximize a company’s growth

Empathy: Follow the “Golden Rule”

If you’re negotiating with a client who seems like a great fit for your team, or who would be a perfect fit for your team, but something seems to be holding them back, understanding and listening to their concerns will gain their trust and keep them open to creative ones Solutions.

After living with your disability, you naturally see the world through an empathic lens. After all, society isn’t always kind when you have limitations. For example, if you’re wheelchair bound, you’ve probably noticed accessibility issues at many business establishments. When your needs have been ignored, your sense of empathy will make you want to avoid doing the same to others.

It is important to anticipate and consider the other party’s concerns when you are in the negotiation process. Put yourself in their place. Showing compassion and understanding other people’s concerns and what they hope to achieve from your partnership will go a long way. Perhaps you are offering your services to a potential client, but they are concerned about the cost and time involved. They’ve been burned in the past by a vendor that didn’t meet their expectations, and they don’t want to repeat their mistakes.

As someone with a disability, you are more likely to be willing to make arrangements because you know firsthand the feeling of having your concerns brushed aside. You might decide together to have daily or weekly check-ins by phone or email to discuss the progress of the project. Or perhaps you agree to accept payments in instalments, rather than upfront. Whatever the solution, they will be grateful that you are willing to take steps to reassure them.

Your personal qualities as a manager with a disability play a major role at the negotiating table. Using your unique perspective and character traits like resourcefulness, positivity, and empathy will help you thrive in negotiations, strengthen your partnerships, and grow your business.

See also: Leaders with disabilities have instincts that inspire their teams and drive productivity

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