Gamify Your Negotiation

If you observe into your interactions with digital applications, you will find that the Gamification concepts are ubiquitous. 

Gamification is defined as applying game concepts in a non-game context (Wikipedia ). This approach can be found in many services, products, and apps.

Gamification is used to build traction, increase engagement, or motivate you to take action. 

Here are some examples of applications that embody the Gamification approach:

  • LinkedIn Learningachieve weekly goals:
  • Stackoverflowobtain badges based on sharing answers and users’ feedback:
  • Fitbit – healthy habits, walk, run, burn calories:
  • Grammarlywrite more content, and excel:

Besides the fun aspects and embedding colour into our lives, Gamification urges for taking actions and face obstacles, while emphasizing the challenging sides.

Moreover, even if we fail to achieve a goal set by an app, we don’t get punished; on the contrary, the app encourages us to try again.

Failure is not something to dread of; missing a goal is a trigger for corrective actions.

Can we take Gamification concepts out from the digital world? Is it possible to adopt them in the business world?

In some cases, it can be a useful idea. Here’s how I applied Gamification concepts in an intricate business situation.

I was taking a substantial part in a stern negotiation process. The process was tedious; it was an intense negotiation with discussions twice a week. For me, it was crucial; had the negotiation failed, I could have lost my job. You can imagine the pressure, which impacted my overall mood.

During these discussions, I was trying to find ways to bypass the hurdles and hindrances the other side posed, but my mind was blocked.

After a few discussions, it was clear that the trend is not in my favour. I was trapped in a vortex. If the deal is rejected, the ramifications were devastating.

Looking for a new path was essential; I had to figure out how to steer the course and break the cycles we were in.  But first, I had to neutralize the pressure and reduce the anxiety level.  

“It is not failure itself that holds people back; it is the fear of failure that paralyzes you.”

Brian Tracy

The Veer – Gamification

So, I decided to change the approach conceptually, and look at each meeting as if it’s a match in a game. Not a sports match, when the winner takes it all, but a game like Pac-Man or Tetris. Such games, by nature, are reversible; if you lose, you can try again. For me, playing a game takes away the pressure.

Moreover, in a game, you try to bypass obstacles, stretch boundaries, change tactics, and redefine rules. Such flexibility builds confidence.

A game is composed of repeatable matches. You learn the game’s rules and adapt accordingly. If you failed to pass one step, the next time you play it, you’ll be smarter and try to avoid mistakes. 

That was the turning point; when the pressure was reduced, creativity thrived. 

The negotiation mantled a game-mode. Each real-life discussions turned into a match, in a positive way: where did I go wrong? In what ways I can express my stand? How to convince your adversary to change his mind? What should be the reaction to the other side’s claims?

Some discussions didn’t go well. Instead of dwelling into a gloomy mood, I perceived it as an opportunity to improve on the next round. Disqualification is not the end; it’s the beginning of a new match.

Continuous improvement is fundamental in the notion of the game. You plan ahead as you reveal the game’s rules. You learn as you go and improve throughout the process.

The counterparty of the negotiation noticed the change. Instead of banging the head against the wall or arguing on details, the atmosphere lightened and became positive. The meetings became more pertinent and respectful, which has elevated the game’s level. Moving on to next levels became rewarding, as the progress was satisfying.

Caveats

Being mindful and present is paramount.

The transformation into game-mode is not trivial and doesn’t fit all cases. In some cases, when failure has consequences you’d rather avoid, prepare Plan-B and exit from the game-mode. There are games you can play only once, and disqualification is lethal.

Furthermore, playing the game mindfully and sensitively is critical for climbing the levels. You need to avoid mistakes that will cost you the game.

The Main Challenge

The hardest part of adopting a Game approach is to convince yourself that failure is not a disaster. Immersing yourself in this state can be difficult. Imagining a safety net underneath you gives the strength and belief that failure is not crucial.

The perspective changes dramatically when you visualize a game in which you have endless lives. Failure is not “Game Over”, and you can continue playing in the next round; in my case, it was the subsequent meeting.

If you manage to overcome the virtual barriers and make this switch, it’s Game On. 


Can you think of scenarios in which embracing game’s concepts could improve the results?

– Lior

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