It’s not that childish a question, actually. The world is full of remarkable people who have developed skills to a degree beyond credulity.
I just spent a day at a TEDx event organised by the British newspaper The Observer. Lots of very interesting and very worthy speakers, as you would expect from such a cornerstone of the liberal British establishment.
But one speaker was astonishing. Daniel Kish – blind from the age of 13 months but able to cycle through city streets and off-trail through forests. How on earth is that possible?
Through echo-location. He makes a clicking noise and, remarkably, from the changes in its sound, he can detect what is in his surroundings and where. Just like a bat or a dolphin.
The bigger picture
But like many people with an extraordinary skill, he is not that impressed by it, he thinks anyone can do it. And as Director of World Access for the Blind, he has taught many children to do so. In fact, Erik Weihenmayer, also blind, has even climbed Mt Everest.
Kish is more concerned with the bigger picture. Blind people, he says, can be constrained in their freedom because of their inability to navigate through their world. The white stick most blind people have is a tool they can use to interact with the world to see what is out there and, therefore, how to move around safely.
Echo-location is just another tool to interrogate the world at larger distances than the stick and therefore enable blind people to find even more freedom in their life than they would otherwise have.
Finding out the unknown unknowns
But Kish makes the point that we are all blind to some degree. We do not know what is around the corner, we do not know what we are about to bump into, we do not know the unknown unknowns, the black swans waiting to be discovered.
We must interrogate our world in some way, put a call out there and read the response, if we want to move safely through it.
…just like a negotiation, really
Which is a brilliant metaphor for negotiations. Negotiators are always dealing with unknowns. Can the other side deliver, are they telling the truth, have we got the full facts of the matter?
“It’s only a small plot of land”…oh, and they forgot to tell you it had oil rights.
“The neighbours? Noisy? Well, everyone makes a bit of noise, don’t they?”…actually, the local tuba band practice there nightly.
To move through your deal safely, you need to get as complete and accurate a picture as you can. Otherwise you might bump into something you weren’t expecting and it could be painful.
Kish tells us the answer: interrogate your negotiator (diplomatically, of course), put a call out there and read the response. Ask lots of questions: ask open questions and drill down into the areas that are of interest. And ask very specific, closed questions to make sure there is no doubt and no wriggle room.
And always read the response. There is information in the communication way beyond the words.
Develop a super-human ability
So what if you could take this skill of reading your negotiator to a super-human level. What if you could almost…well, read minds? That would help you in your deals, wouldn’t it?!
And it’s possible. Think of poker players and their abilities to read the tiny “tell” that another player leaks as they see their cards. Think of mentalists who can perform amazing mind-reading tricks. These are just normal people who have developed their skill through practice, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.
Reading minds. Just think how useful that would be in your negotiation. If Daniel Kish can “see” the world through clicks, how far do you think you can develop your skills in reading people?
Just put a call out there and read the response.