I enjoyed this recent piece by Troy Hunt, the celebrity creator of havibeenpwned. He departs from his usual technical topics, instead discussing the skills he’s had to practice in the last year to stay effective while under more stress. Call it confirmation bias if you want, but I already believe in the strategies he describes - being goal oriented, thinking of setbacks and failure as normal, and stable routines.
I especially like a new twist he adds to his goals:
But the basic premise is that before expressing my position on something, I’d consider the range of possible responses I’d receive. Let’s say there were 3 of them; for each of those 3 possible responses I’d not only consider how I’d respond to each, but how each of my responses would then be received. Same again for how I’d respond to each of those and in my mind, I was drawing out a mental image of 3^3 different possible outcomes - which one did I want? It was an exercise that enabled me to look much further down the road and consider whether it aligned to an earlier point in this blog post - my big picture.
This requires time, practice and patience and as I said in the opening, I didn’t always get this right. You can’t always be aware of all the factors influencing third parties nor can you be aware of all the cards they hold, but without doubt, this way of approaching any negotiation is enormously valuable. It also forced me to empathise; how will other parties feel? What’s the most natural reaction they’ll then have?
Not only should you have SMART goals and keep them in mind as you make decisions (or react to things), planning scenarios ahead helps temper your own tendency to respond emotionally because you’ll be less likely to be surprised by a particular response. I also like his point about empathy: for those who aren’t naturally gifted at it, this approach can help develop that skill.