The Kookaburra Effect©


What signals are you missing at the negotiation table?

Some 5 years ago my wife and our 3 daughters purchased a farm 2 hours north of Sydney.

The farm has been a place of hard work, reflection and joy in seeing the soil enriched with compost, the water working harder producing fruit and vegetables.

At the beginning of this year, I was slashing the paddocks on the farm and a permaculture friend looked up in awe when he saw 3 Aquila audax (wedge-tailed eagles). Once he stopped saying ‘wow’ he quickly assured me that we have a very healthy eco system to have such higher order predators using our farm for its prey.

So as time passes, at the beginning of May this year, I was up at the farm slashing again. This time of year as I slash I also make sure our 6 water tanks are full. So on a beautiful Australian autumn day, I hopped off the tractor and started to walk towards the top tanks to shift values and water. As I walked into the grass clearing 2 kookaburras flew over my head and up very close to me and into the trees.

It was so odd seeing them fly over and so close to me that I stopped and started to work on ‘why and this does not make sense!’

The message for us all in negotiation is the better prepared we are, the more intuitive we become during the actual negotiation. You are more aware of everything when you are not focused on yourself.

Back to the Kookaburras, as I started to look around I found just in front of me that there was a 1 metre red belly black snake sunning itself near my water tank. I stopped, stepped back and quickly got my ride on mower and looked to see which neighbour wasn’t home and gently chased the snake onto his property.

What signals are you seeing at the negotiation table, over the phone or through emails that gets your senses moving to feel that something is amiss? If your observations do not make sense, it is a good time to call a ‘time out.’

So the message here is clear, kookaburras are the good guys and we all need to prepare better for each negotiation.

Preparation can include:

  • Listing all key stakeholders in the negotiation;
  • Mapping all stakeholders and determining the decision makers on your list;
  • Identifying their negotiation style;
  • Preparing creative ways to persuade them during the negotiation;
  • Looking for ways to reach agreement;
  • Focusing on ways to ‘close’ the deal and ask for the business;
  • Focusing on the next steps when agreement is reached.

Preparation means that you behave in a more confident way at the negotiation table, because sadly in major negotiations there are people who will be focussed on their outcome at your expense. You will at times during those major deals, like at our farm, encounter ‘snakes in the grass’ that are not focussed on a mutually beneficial outcome.

The message is don’t run, revisit your preparation, make changes and continue to negotiate!

If you want to improve the outcomes of your negotiations then contact us on +61 2 9450 1040 or