Have you ever been involved in high-level negotiations? The stakes are high. The potential for reward is great, but the chances of crashing-and-burning are also great. Everyone is on their A-game both mentally and emotionally. No one wants to misstep or misspeak.
Sounds like a hostage negotiator, or a government official brokering a treaty, or a business leader finalizing a multi-million dollar business deal, right?
Actually, these high-level, high-stress, high risk-or-reward negotiations happen almost every day. And you’re involved. Whenever you have a conversation with someone where you’re opening your heart to them—or they’re opening up to you—you’ve stepped into a place where wonderful or tragic things can happen.
Think about how your blood pressure rises when you hear…
- …your spouse say, “We need to talk.”
- …your boss intercoms you and says, “Will you come into my office.”
- …your friend says, “This isn’t very easy for me to tell you this, but….”
- …your coworker says, “You need to sit down for this.”
Here’s a scene from the Bible: Abraham’s beloved wife Sarah has died, and he wants to bury her somewhere special. The problem is, Abraham doesn’t own any land. So for the first time since leaving Ur, he has to negotiate the purchase of land. The Hittites know Abraham is a powerful man. They don’t want to give anything away for free, but neither do they want to anger him. Abraham is a wealthy man. He can probably pay any price for the land, but he doesn’t want to be seen as a sucker.
Let the negotiations begin. Multiple times throughout their conversation a phrase is repeated:
“Listen to me.”
In the Hebrew language, there is nothing unique or noteworthy about these words. But the fact that the phrase is repeated so frequently in so few verses is interesting. In fact, this phrase is only used one other time in all of Genesis.
Both parties are saying, “I realize that one misspoken word here could be hurtful. This is a difficult, touchy subject, but I want it to be a win-win. So don’t just listen to my words, hear my heart.”
Here’s my takeaway for my emotionally-charged conversations:
- Take a deep breath and ask God for help.
- Go slowly.
- Make sure I’m in the right place emotionally to listen to them.
- Listen to the other person’s heart, not just their words.
- Be committed to finding a win-win.
- Go slowly.
Keep this in mind the next time you hear one of those blood-pressure-elevating opening phrases. When you hear those phrases, you have just entered into high-level negotiations. You can successfully broker a win-win for everyone if you’ll just hear their heart.