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The Power of Soft is a different way to approach negotiation – in life and in business. It’s based on experience of solving difficult negotiations in large organisations, mediating small disputes and even working with primary school children. It’s a way of bringing out the power of soft whilst being strong at core.
A central observation is that it’s just too easy to “armour up” in our more challenging dealings in life. The hard front insulates us from the truth. Behind the hard front we tend to be more vulnerable. Sometimes the more vulnerable we are the harder the front we put up. This puts hard and soft the wrong way round. The Power of Soft is there to break through the armour and re-establish the balance.
The Power of Soft is based on answering four key challenges. An imbalance in any one of these areas can undermine our ability to negotiate. These are the 4Ps: Principles, Power, People and Perception.
The book’s first focus is on inner strength. Here we look at Power and Principles to help us draw our strength to our core. It’s about understanding and improving our relative power in the situation. Then it’s about a more honest, principled, way of understanding our needs and the needs of others rather than the positions we tend to take. Effectively, it puts the armour, our boundaries, on the inside. Suddenly, we are significantly more powerful than we think and there are almost always more ways of getting what we need. This is the Strong Core.
Crucially the best bit comes later. Building inner strength is the start. Peeling away external armour also allows for a more open, softer front. This is where the book focuses on People, how we improve our relationships and Perception, making sure we see what is actually there rather than what we assume or judge from the facts. An open, soft front combined with a strong core allows us to handle a complex negotiation or to prepare and respond to a difficult conversation in an open and helpful way whilst preserving our core. The last bit of the book is about how we listen and what can stop us from listening.
The Power of Soft is a guide to explore the art of the possible more openly and curiously whilst remaining true to your needs. This approach works just as well in social relationships as it does in complex corporate negotiations.
'Hilary is a genius. He's added huge value to our business, especially with how to approach key strategic decisions. I've already been using the principles in the book to great effect.' Dan Kieran, CEO of Unbound
Although Hilary spent 20 plus years solving complex negotiations for big organisations like Clifford Chance, Accenture and Capgemini, he really is a bit of a softie. It wasn’t always this way though. Early on in his career he wore a nice suit and negotiated everything with an iron fist as if his blessed life depended on it. Slowly he worked out that this wasn’t him and that being hard didn’t actually work that well. Years of trying things out, some great mentors, some of the world’s best and worst training, a bit of therapy and quite a few good books helped him to find a better way. Hilary learned how to combine the power of soft with a strong, principled core. Hilary now coaches people who are either dealing with leadership challenges or dealing with life’s perennial question: “What am I going to do next?”
We can all be seduced by a grand promise. Perhaps part of the allure of a great visionary statement is that we salute the challenge and the daring the promise holds. A new relationship or a big venture needs this boldness. A true leader displaces our scepticism and taps into our sense of awe at the level of conviction they hold in the bold vision. This conviction can at times be addictive. The receptive audience now wants to go on the journey that has been captured for us in images and words. David Cameron, on his election as Conservative party leader in December 2005, made such a promise. His was to end “Punch and Judy” politics. Cameron in his victory speech, acknowledged the colleagues he beat to the leader’s job, set the tone for his leadership, and said:
“And we need to change, and we will change, the way we behave. I'm fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster, the name calling, backbiting, point scoring, finger pointing.”
Many of the promises Cameron made were of course political ones. We all differ in our views politically, giving different priorities to different things. That is part of the rich tapestry of being human. Fortunately, we don’t need to go into the shivering divide of political questions now. The “Punch and Judy” promise is not political. This promise is behavioural, it transcends politics and speaks to a desire we all have for a less confrontational world. The idea that our leaders might show leadership in how we achieve this is a very attractive one.
- 18th April 2018 Our Fear Goldmine
A couple of years ago I got on a train and had an epiphany. I had an important new client and was on my way to a session of negotiation training with them, based on "Soft", the next day. It was in the early days of working for myself. My original leap out of employment had had its fears but by now I thought I was mostly through these. As I sat there on the train I realised that I was more hesitant…20th March 2018 Fear Hack
Last time I published a book your help was invaluable and I'd like you to be the first to know that I have just soft launched my next book, As a subcriber to Soft you can pledge for it now. It'll launch to the public next week. So what's it about?
"Fear Hack" builds on the workshops I've been running about fear and develops a different take on power. What Fear Hack does is to pull fear…6th March 2017 The Very Latest...
It's been just over a year since The Power of Soft was published and alot has changed in that time - both out in the world and I'm guessing with you. Certainly alot has changed here.
Two strong but unexpected themes emerged from the book. One that is becoming clearer now is the realisation that war is all around us - not real war with guns but the concept of it - in our behaviour and in the…9th September 2016 Time to get moving?
The return from Summer Holidays is a great time to get moving and it’s that return to fluid movement that best captures The Power of Soft right now.
First off the blocks is a new thing called Friday Club. This is a thing we are creating where anyone can come to unblock the thing that is holding them back. At the workshop you'll find some surprising new ways of getting over the things that often…4th February 2016 RIP 4Ps
If you've watched the funding video or read some of the information on the site you may be familiar with the idea of the "4Ps": Principles, Power, Perspective and People. Well; the 4Ps have now gone. They are not in the book - although they kind of are. The philosophy of four big important areas remains but this way of referring to them doesn't appear.
So why is this? And what has replaced the…4th December 2015 Oh so nearly here... 28th January it is.
It's been a tough hard week out in the world. I don't know about you but I am feeling a bit bruised by it all. The Tornados are now in the air over Syria and I'm torn between living in a democracy which voted for hard power and believing in soft now more than ever. I can't see how we will ever show that killing is not the answer by doing yet more killing; we can only cure pain with love.…26th October 2015 A great vote of support from an early reviewer...
“This book puts into words what many of us have always suspected to be a truth; you can be kind and successful at the same time. Intelligent, insightful and an absolute must read if you want to balance your life.” - Tracy Edwards M.B.E
Tracy skippered the first all female crew to complete the ultimate test of the seas - the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race - which they completed 25 years…19th September 2015 Nearly there!
Silence is a great thing but the shed has been quiet too long. This week has made me realise that the Power of Soft is now nearing the end of its journey as I was at unbound talking to them about progress. The book is currently in typesetting and with the illustrator. This is the bit of the process which takes the words that sit in a word processing program to the layout that will grace the pages…28th April 2015 Where's my copy? What's taking the time? When is the Party? How can I buy more?
It's so nice to be constantly asked these questions. I'm pleased to say that I now have some answers that are more than vague guesses. Yes, you can have a copy soon and yes, you should get it, if you order it here, for Christmas.
The manuscipt is in edit and I have agreed a plan for the next few months with Unbound. The great news is that The Power of Soft will be published in the trade in January…2nd March 2015 Psychologies Magazine
The Power of Soft is slowing but surely getting into print. We are featured in the April issue of Psychologies Magazine (which is out now) in their Kindness section - page 83.30th January 2015 Softly does it...
The following was sent to me today by a friend and a supporter of the book.
The story speaks for itself.
“I got on a train sat down next to a man who had his feet on the seats. Early 30s, he seemed relatively well dressed and was playing a game on his phone. I quietly pointed to the sign that said "Please keep your feet off the seats" and suggested he follow it.
He looked at me. And then…6th January 2015 Follow your Purpose, tell the Truth, know your Needs
In writing this book I have increasingly come to realise that killing the “Jungian” shadow is key to success in so many things in life. It is the key even to how we define success itself, to ourselves. What we want, what our companies want and how we thus project and defend ourselves into the world, holds us back. Future success, for brands, for public engagement, for our daily negotiation with…12th December 2014 New Pledge Level for you all
Yesterday I went to the V&A and met up with James Wilson, a supporter who works there.
We spent some time exploring how we all might work together.
This is what I wrote about it on linked in. I hope you can all see it.
The new pledge level is for a coaching session at the V&A, with the V&A. To use the museum and its objects to…8th December 2014 Opening the Power of Soft shed
Many great things start as a result of an impromptu chat. The other day John-Paul Flintoff and I were doing just that. John-Paul also has a book project here which I'd heartily recommend. One of the things John-Paul talked about was his shed and his love of it as a place to hang out. As he talked about his shed I got more and more curious. Where was my shed and would it be like? Yesterday I found…
These people are helping to fund The Power of Soft.
Alex Carabi / Kodawari AB