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Skill - Knowledge in Action

March 25, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 166

In today's world of commercial negotiating, there is no escaping the harsh reality that those who take the time to know more about the other party's business will have the upper hand. No longer can we be content with a limited store of basic in-house product knowledge. To be a convincing buyer or seller, we need to cast the net a lot wider. Not only must we be up-to-date with the basic products and services we are trading, but be across the whole spectrum of marketplace information that can impact on our competitive position.

From the rolling wave of industry developments to the ripples of competitor movement, it is this wider sea of understanding and knowledge that will give us that certain aura - a level of self-confidence and enthusiasm, even a bit of mystique, that others can but sense. Yes, the other party can't touch it, they can't see it, but they will feel it. Even so, knowledge alone won't necessarily carry the day. How we use it - or how we refrain from misusing it - will inevitably be the game-changer.

I guess the time has come when we must challenge that famous quote: 'Knowledge is Power'. Now please don't get me wrong. I certainly believe that knowledge will always be the most powerful driver of successful buying and selling. However, the saying itself has probably passed its use-by date now. Not too long ago, a good negotiator was regarded as an individual who knew everything. With the dawning of the information age, it became pretty obvious that nobody could possibly know it all, so the definition suddenly became he or she who didn't necessarily know everything, but knew how to find out 'stuff'.

But even that school of thought has become past tense. These days, pre-schoolers with internet access can search the entire world of general knowledge in a matter of seconds. Thanks to the worldwide web, getting information has literally become child's play. We certainly can't take for granted how much the other party might or might not know, so the time has come yet again for some fresh thinking. Today's definition of a good negotiator surely must be 'he or she who knows most of it, knows where to find the rest of it, but above all knows how to put all that knowledge into action'. Having the 'know-how' takes on a whole new meaning too. Simply to know is no longer enough; to know how has become the key.

This is a contentious issue around education circles and a particularly hot topic in the training industry. In an era where blatant plagiarism is now considered to be research, and the intellectual property (IP) ownership of training material is often contested, the question of content versus delivery is inevitably raised. In the live learning environment, it is generally argued that how effectively the training facilitator uses the material to achieve the desired outcome is the more important of the two. Things are no different across the negotiating table: the knowledge will only be as good as our skill in managing it.

Sure, we must accept that too little knowledge is dangerous, but we must also appreciate that too much knowledge can be positively hazardous unless we have the skills to control how, when, and why we deliver it. Going back to the original saying - 'Knowledge is Power' - the plain fact is that knowledge will only have power if the other party doesn't have the same knowledge. Most people aren't prepared to listen to what they already know or what they don't want to know, so the first rule of managing knowledge must be to find out what the other party already knows, establish what they want to know, then tell them only what they need to know. Like everything else in buying and selling, it comes back to the basics - less telling, more asking.

I have often heard skill described as 'Knowledge in Action'. If that is the case, and we accept that 'Knowledge is Power', then maybe the new catch-cry should be a combination of the two. Perhaps the real message is - 'Skill is Power'.

About the Author:

In a distinguished career spanning half a century, Keith Rowe has managed the full journey from shop floor to boardroom. Along the way, he has headed the Australian sales and marketing operations for three of the world's largest Consumer Electronics manufacturers - Toshiba, Sanyo and Sharp.

Keith is not just a successful businessman. He is an accomplished speaker and trainer, specialising in interpersonal skills. His latest book - the KNACK of Negotiating - is essential reading for all those involved in commercial buying and selling. It is available in all the popular eBook formats, from Apple iTunes to Amazon Kindle.

© 2012 Keith Rowe - all rights reserved worldwide

Source: EzineArticles
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