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Commercial professionals live in a sea of detail. 

Wrangling 30, 40 or even 50+ issues in a contract negotiation? That’s the norm, and often essential. 

Our command of this detail can be an asset at the negotiation table. So long as it doesn’t suck us into a vortex of fixation.

▶ Why does this matter?

Fixating on one point can fool us into thinking it’s the main point. This is a cognitive illusion, where our brains mistake what captures our attention for what's truly important.

Nobel Prize recipient Daniel Kahneman sums it up with this quote he used to explain a cognitive bias called the focusing illusion:

"Nothing in life is as important as you think it is while you are thinking about it." 

The problem? When we focus on one thing, our brain amplifies its importance, which can send us in the wrong direction. 

▶ The antidote?

Cultivate the practice of stepping back from the details to refresh your perspective. 

Mentally detach for a moment and shift your perspective with a good question, like “What will matter most in ten years?” or “What is the real problem that must be solved?”

As William Ury, the master negotiator, would say, get off the dance floor and go to the balcony. 

Let's challenge ourselves to periodically step back and reassess what’s really important. 

Our command of the detail takes on its true power when channelled with perspective 

(The pic is from a recent session for World Commerce & Contracting titled Perspective Shift. Credit to Anna van der Lugt for snapping the pic!)


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