Joerg Schmitz 0:08
Welcome to the inclusive leader podcast. The practice of inclusive leadership enables us to tackle the complex challenges of our times. This is the space for conversations about inclusive leadership. I am your host, Joerg Schmitz, and I welcome you to this episode. I am so excited to share this conversation with Karen Walsh with you, Karen has been a dear friend, co author, Coach inspiration for so many things that I have learned along the way, especially in the area of negotiation, and how how negotiation is a lens through which we can look at human interaction at the macro level and the micro level. And I think you will discover some really interesting pieces of wisdom. And especially at the end of this conversation, there is a real good advice for anybody who is looking at a stepping into a negotiation, whether large or small. So hopefully, you'll wait to the end of this conversation to really get the essence of a really transformational way of looking at negotiations. So here's my conversation with Karen. So I'm really excited to, to have you in this little podcast and part of our our institute, Karen. And I ask everybody that I'm introducing to just give us a little peek of what you're doing. Before you start though, I just have to say that one of your focus areas is negotiation. And I have always loved that because we negotiate all the time, even even when we're not realizing it. So it's great to have you part of this institute. Thank you for making time.
Karen Walch 1:53
Thank you so much, Joerg, I'm happy to be here. So what is it that you do? Well, I like to support clients to clarify what they need, and how they're going to get what they need through negotiation. And I do that through being an author of, for example, I co authored a book with Joerg, we worked on the concept of quantum negotiation. And I've been an educator, and I'm a coach. And my clients have primarily worked in the global space, and or a lot of multicultural experiences. And as you just pointed out, when when I talk about negotiation, I'm very interested in this situation where I have something that I need, and I will need to work through someone else to get it. And that could be maybe we're problem solving a project that we're working on. Or maybe we're sharing them limited resources, we're negotiating a budget, or we're creating something new, such as a project is coming together, and we're going to create something new. So I like to help people understand and support how much power they actually have with each other. And when I think about not only what they need, I'm also interested in why they need it, and what they think they need, and how are they going to get what they need. And a lot of people think often that strategy and tactics is the way to study negotiation. And I'm very, very interested in first of all, exploring the concept of power meaning do we want to have power over others, which is generally what strategy and tactics really are trying to accomplish? Versus how do we prepare to be power with use our power with others, to really get what we need? And to help have others help us get what we need in a negotiation?
Joerg Schmitz 4:04
I think this is such a such an important point, right? This power over versus power with and it's also a very different leadership paradigm, right? When we when we think about power in general, which is not an easy topic, you know, and I wonder when you bring up power what your clients whether it's in organizations or personally, but their assumptions are around power but power in negotiation you're so right i mean this there is this notion of negotiation that it's about outsmarting others, right and exercising power and but the real element of negotiation most people aren't even aware of so, you know, just wondering what do you find with your clients or in general, what gets them unstuck around some of their assumptions and, and how do you turn from power over as a paradigm to power with?
Karen Walch 4:58
Well, that's a very very simple story and a very complex story. And generally what I have found, and this is both from the research and the study that I have done in my life, which is I have studied power from the political science perspective. And that's what brought me into this business. And what I have found is that it's very, very deep in our psyche, that when we are afraid, and this is where neuroscience comes in, we generally trigger to the more natural capacity in our brain, which is to defend ourselves. So all of us have an assumption, when we are afraid or threatened, which we are in a negotiation, because we need something and we need it with others, we need to understand how our brains can trigger very quickly to defending ourselves versus trying to work with others. So it has a lot to do with helping people manage their anxiety, manage their nervous system, and to be able to really become very clear, what is it that you really need. And this is what I find works the best with others, if we can't slow down the preparation, and actually understand our assumptions, that we need to defend ourselves in a negotiation.
Joerg Schmitz 6:23
Fascinating, you know, I'm just thinking of I just had a call earlier with a leader, but not a C level leader, but a leader responsible for the for a project, the project isn't going all that well. I mean, people are complaining, not having enough resources, and the organization being ad hoc, it's a little bit like, it feels more like this leaders is running a little tech startup within a larger organization that isn't configured to support the level of resources and investment and patients also in making mistakes and not getting it right. Right in the very beginning. And he is a he's dealing with within this hierarchy of leaders that fund him, basically. So they have power over him. But they're not exercising power with him. And he doesn't know how to get visibility for this project to to bring more resources to this team. Is that the kind of situation you're coaching and helping people with?
Karen Walch 7:27
That's a very good example. Because one of the ways that he would prepare is to, and this is why we talk about slowing it down and slowing it down so much so he can actually clarify what is it that he actually needs? Not what he wants, but what is you need, for example, if he can clarify the one thing he needs, maybe it's safety, maybe it's a little more time, maybe it's a resource here and there, could he clarify that enough, and work with his superiors to work with him to get what he needs, so he can actually work with his team. So they get what they need to accomplish. That sounds pretty basic, but it's amazing how many times you'll raise right by what you really need. And then to ask for that help.
Joerg Schmitz 8:27
Yeah, and I could really see the, almost the panic and the fear that you were describing that was driving his decisions. And, and didn't really serve Him because that doesn't create the conditions for clarity
Karen Walch 8:41
in you just defined what happens when we are in fear, when power over us creates fear and defensiveness. We generally move into panic anxiety, and we do more. So what we really talk about often is counter intuitive to slow that way down. And that's probably the biggest muscle to learn in that panic situation is to come back to and define what you really need.
Joerg Schmitz 9:12
And it's interesting, it's so relevant in in these complex organizations that we have created, right? I mean, global multinational structures, matrix organizations or so where so much is out of our control, and we need to harness the power of influencing and yet where we build these interdependent organizational structures. Of course, I can't also, you know, because you have this political science background, I can't help but think that right now, you know, geopolitical sense. We are also entering a phase where we're unraveling a little bit of that interdependence and are rethinking that but, you know, I think what you do is so relevant at the macro level and also the micro level?
Karen Walch 10:02
Yes, I find that it has application at every level of human dimension. Yeah. And level of analysis, I started out studying foreign policy and diplomacy at the international level. And through opportunities, I was able to teach at a global business school. And that gave me an opportunity to put this down more at a human level. And the concepts are all still the same. Except that in political science, when you think about nation states, the one rule that still overrides this is the fundamental in political science is that sovereignty overrides every interdependency we create in international organizations. And there's still a debate about that. And the pressure against globalism today is teaching us that lesson even more, yeah, that national security sometimes is at risk when you become much more interdependent. So there's still a debate in political science about this, and it will go on forever. But there's always going to be this difference between my professors just tell me don't anthropomorphize what happens at the nation state to individuals, because in the end, sovereignty reigns, and you have to be completely self interested to protect your nation state. I question that along the way. But that's the basic principle.
Joerg Schmitz 11:37
Sure. And even at the at the individual level, if I just think back on of this leader that I've just talked about, I mean, he struggles because he, he doesn't feel his own sense of agency. Right. I mean, and I think, you know, almost experiencing himself, and the agency that he actually has, would change his outlook significantly, you know, he has to discover that he has power. But that power is that power with not power over?
Karen Walch 12:09
Exactly. And you've just stated that. So clearly, a lot of the work that we do is to help people discover their power, but you do have agency that you do have needs, that you do have networks, you do have resources. And oftentimes, it's just our assumptions that panic. And this is why neuroscience is so interesting to me, because when your brain is flooded with this kind of hormone that creates the defenses, you really can't think of all the resources and all the support and all the agency that you do have. But and that's why slowing it down. There's a biological reason why we do the slow down. So you can be a more clear thinker. And then you actually like you always say, open the aperture. Yeah, open that aperture. And there are a lot of resources. And you do you do have agency. And that's why I think many times people need to really understand how they're thinking, go back and question your assumptions. Look at how you're behaving. Think about what you're believing. So I think these things are very important to find the power in yourself first. And ironically, in terms of neuroscience, the more you know about yourself, the more you're interested in others. Absolutely. Yes, yes. quirky thing of the brain.
Joerg Schmitz 13:35
Sorry. So so I'm just curious, why was that an attraction for you? And when I say that, right, why did why did you do this? Why did you get into this? Because your journey has been kind of from the, from the political level, the macro level, and you'll find yourself, you know, on a very different almost a micro level of human interaction. And not I mean, one is often Of course, nestled into the other. So you can't really separate them anyway. But But I'm just curious what, by this interesting power, actually, what got you started there?
Karen Walch 14:13
Well, I actually started out as an undergrad in social change in development. And I was so fascinated how people who didn't have structural power, actually made social change. And I just watched that and I studied everything I could possibly study. And then I had to graduate otherwise, I would have stayed there. But then I went to work in the Caribbean in the 80s when the civil wars were going on in Central America, and I was at a scuba diving resort and just having fun, but I was learning a lot from all the internationals and embassies and military and CIA he was to come to the island I was just curious. I'm gonna 20 year old curious, why is the US involved in Central American politics? Yes. And I'll never forget the American ambassador at the time, I was waiting with him in the morning before his car came to take him back to the airport. And he said, You should go into the Foreign Service that wow, that's a great idea. So I went to Madison at right after that. And I wanted to go one year to study foreign policy and go back in the Foreign Service. But my curious brain kept going, I still don't understand it. So I kept taking classes. Yeah. And before I knew what I was, I was ABD. And I finished my dissertation studying trade politics in the US and the Caribbean. And it became very interested in the concept of self interest of socio centric self interest that I saw, when the Caribbean countries and the US multilateral groups who work together, they would come up with the most interesting solutions, which when I look at our immigration problems today, I think back to those days, that those were solutions back in those days, but domestic politics, cuts of short, doesn't vote for a lot of these support programs. So I went on to teach at Thunderbird School of Global Management. And I learned that so many things about the brain, and neural science were coming out of the literature. First, I started reading emotional intelligence. And I added that then to the concept of self interest, and I learned a lot about how we can identify and manage our emotions. And our self interest can be expanded more socio centric. And then I learned about social intelligence that we can actually manage how we behave. And then I learned more about mind, body spirit, all the physical elements, and brain and nervous system work. And then I learned about spiritual intelligence. So over that whole track of my 30 years working in the field with internationales, I learned that all of our brains are the same, and that we all react to fear in different ways. But we are developed enough today to know that we can identify those emotions, we can manage those emotions, we can identify your emotions, and I can help you manage those emotions. And power comes from being able to help build a safe environment. So we can actually manage the fear and the stress and the anxiety together. And I just became very interested in Machiavelli and power over strategies and how ineffective it is, it is, yeah, it's very ineffective. And even at the global stage, the more you use it, the less effective it becomes. And I have great faith that we as human beings on a day to day level, can actually build peace and security, just the way we behave with each other.
Joerg Schmitz 18:10
It's such a powerful perspective, I think, and why I'm so excited about bringing your perspective, your skill, your voice yourselves into this institute is actually that for when I think about inclusive leadership as a, as a really important foundation to solve the big and small challenges we have, and we are all facing, right, whether I mean, the big challenge is obviously climate change, peace, security, you know, any of those kinds of huge challenges that we are all facing, it starts with those basic principles, right. And, and then of course, it extends from there to the small challenges we face that are equally complex. And but if we go to that, that source that you talked about, to find our power and to develop power with each other, I think that is such a core core element. I'm just curious, obviously, people will be excited and to hear more from you and and to learn from you. But what are some one or two takeaways from all your research from all your work that anybody who's listening right now could actually apply relatively easily? And I know it's a loaded question this, this requires deeper engagement. But are there a few tips? You can you can leave us with?
Karen Walch 19:32
Let's do one quick tip. And I would say in general, a lot of negotiation preparation focuses on the what? And often on the why, for more so today, and a lot on the how, but I would like to focus on who you are. So for example, the next negotiation that you're in, just slow it down for a second and think to yourself, how am I thinking? That is? Do I think the world is one of scarcity? Or do I think it is one of abundance? Think about how you're feeling? Am I feeling extremely anxious right now? Or am I feeling excited that I get to try something new? And when I look at my behavior? Am I being defensive? Or am I acting, really cooperative, authentically cooperative? And when you think about your physical state, the day you're going to negotiate? Are you feeling extremely drained? Or have you done something to increase the oxygen and the blood flow to your brain? And have you moved around? And have you been able to get enough sleep for something important on that day? And then lastly, just take a moment to think about what you believe in? This is the spiritual dimension. What is it that you believe and this this negotiation, this interaction represents something bigger than yourself? Or is this a deadly exercise that you're going to die at the end? Or is this just one piece of a brilliant, abundant, happy, healthy life? And if you just think about those, those five things, those are the five human dimensions, that you will have a lot more power and a sense of confidence in yourself to start exploring the other party, and then get to work and see if you can solve each other's problems.
Joerg Schmitz 21:34
Thank you so much, Karen. Because I can see how many people when when when you ask them think about your next next negotiation. Their minds will go to tactics, right. What can I you know, what techniques can I use? You know, and we all do. This is such a counterintuitive advice, but it really works.
Karen Walch 21:54
It really does work. I've got a lot of great stories to share.
Joerg Schmitz 21:58
Great. Well, we look forward to hearing all of them. But thank you for now. Thank you
Thank you for listening. You can sign up for more wherever you get your podcasts just look for the inclusive leader podcast. To find out more about the inclusive leadership institute. Visit us at www the inclusive leadership institute.com