Do you feel the pain of dealing with the same customers, vendors, employees, and bosses every day to get your job done? If so, you may not be aware that your career depends on how well you negotiate in these situations. If this thought stresses you out, it’s because you are programmed to think that each negotiation ends when one side wins.

This view is flat-out wrong.

Mala Subramaniam negotiated for twenty years in global companies to achieve transformational projects and taught negotiations for ten years. She wrote Beyond Wins: Eastern Mindset for Success in Daily Business Negotiations to steer business leaders away from immediate gains and show them how to achieve business results and relationships that last.

Published with permission from the author.

I recently sat down with Mala to learn the moment she decided to write her book, her favorite ideas that she shares with readers, and how those ideas have impacted her life.

What happened that made you decide to write the book? What was the exact moment when you realized these ideas needed to get out there?

How can I forget that moment? It was the day I took the exit package from my employer in 2005. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot. It was around 2 pm. I had never felt lonelier. I did not want to drive home. I sat there for over three hours looking back at the years I spent working in big roles in big companies. Every day was a mad race to get my job done better and faster than others. My strong arguments got me wins every time we were in project discussions! I was so naïve, I didn’t even know then that those were exercises in negotiations.

In my obsession with wins, I abandoned my Indian principles of a balanced, contemplative mindset. Sure enough, I got visibility up to the C-Suite, but did I succeed?

I suddenly understood the difference between a win and success. A win is short-term with a beginning and an end. Success is a journey where long-term results and lasting relationships matter. I wished I had been more contemplative. Boy, was it an awakening!

It was quitting time and I saw people leaving. I wanted to run to each of them and tell them not to join the mad race. Beyond Wins started at that very moment. I created a course based on Eastern principles and my corporate experience to train folks stressed by the yo-yo of wins and losses. People loved the course. One student remarked, “Mala, what I learned elsewhere makes more sense now. I don’t think the negotiation trainings I attended prepared me to transcend the wins to succeed!” The course became the book. I cannot set the clock back 20 years, but I can at least help others caught in the race.

What’s your favorite specific, actionable idea in the book?

Published with permission from the author.

Combating fear with courage is an idea that’s produced results for people I coach. Fear haunts most people going into negotiations. Fear of outcome, conflict, and failure are among the most common fears. These freeze people into inaction. I call it the dis-ease state.

Fear is an us vs. them mindset. You say to yourself, “The client is so angry! What will happen to me?” The flip side of fear is compassion. Look to see if there is pain behind the client’s anger. Ask yourself, “How can I relieve the client’s pain?” In the long run, you get relief too.

Do an Accomplishment Grid, which is a list of your most notable achievements and what strengths got you there. By the end of the fifth accomplishment, you will be feeling high! Every time I lost my job, it was this grid that boosted my confidence and landed me a better job.

What’s a story of how you’ve applied this lesson in your own life? What has this lesson done for you?

I lost my husband a few years back. He was the CFO and COO of the house. He handled all the finances and operational matters in the house while holding a full-time job. I was gripped with fear of standing alone. I dislike finance and any administrative work. I kept calling everyone for help. I was afraid that accountants, lawyers, and banks would take advantage of me. I psyched myself into becoming the victim. I had visions of becoming bankrupt!

My mother visited me. She was surprised to see me in fear. She said, “I can’t believe it. You have an MBA. You worked for a bank. I can understand the fear if someone less qualified was put in your position. You, NO!” She gave me The Art of Happiness by HH The Dalai Lama.

I sat down and prepared a list of my accomplishments. How did I achieve them? What are my strengths? How did it benefit others? That gave me such a boost. So did reading the book my mother gave me. I met a few people who’d suffered similar losses and had to get jobs for their survival. I helped them do the Accomplishment Grid, which paved their way for getting jobs.

I got my finances in order and sold my house for $10,000 more than the asking price. At that point, I knew I had conquered my fear and turned it into courage.

For more advice on achieving business results and relationships that last, you can find Beyond Wins: Eastern Mindset for Success in Daily Business Negotiations on Amazon.