Think of all the ways our lives have been made easier and more efficient with technology. With just the click of a button (or a mouse), we have the world at our fingertips. Communication alone has changed drastically over the past decade (for the better, right?). Besides face-to-face meetings and phone calls, we have email, instant messaging (IM), text messaging, eNewsletters, blogs, list-servs, online forums and threads, virtual reality, webcasts and webinars (and more that I’m not aware of, I’m sure) that enable us to keep in touch. Just a short time ago our primitive ancestors communicated via fax, courier and (gasp!) snail mail. Life really has gotten easier.
Or has it?
Businessdictionary.com defines the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy as “[E]xpectations about circumstances, events, or people that affect a person’s behavior [such that] he or she (unknowingly) creates situations [that fulfill] those expectations.” In other words, your predictions about a situation (and therefore how you act in that situation) will cause those predictions to come true.
But what does this have to do with you as a negotiator? More than you think. In a typical negotiation with at least two partners per side, your beliefs about them, and what you anticipate from them, will influence your actions, which will in turn influence their reactions. When your counterparts on the other side of the table are in disagreement with each other, they look to you to confirm or disconfirm their various hypotheses. Therefore, your actions inevitably and directly prove one side correct and the other incorrect, thereby empowering one faction over another, influencing their behavior and completing the cycle of self-fulfilling prophecies!