What do you do when you’ve got five minutes before a surprise meeting and you haven’t had a chance to prepare? Students from my negotiation course know that preparation for a negotiation is crucial, but what if time is short? ^^This month we look at the idea of going to IOWA. That means you simply jot down answers to these core questions: I– What are the Interests here? (Mine, hers, ours) O–What Options might satisfy them? W–Who can influence this negotiation? A– What are my best Alternatives to agreement (i.e. if we can’t agree, what will I do instead?)? Writing down the answers to these questions can focus your thinking, calm you down, and clue you in on the organizational politics. It can also help you spot a few creative ideas, and give you a rough idea of how much leverage you have. Of course, it’s best to postpone the meeting if possible, since you’re not really ready to negotiate. If that’s not possible, end the meeting quickly or take a time out as soon as you can. Then run through the I FORESAW IT* so you can dramatically improve your performance at the next meeting. Challenge- cut and paste the IOWA mnemonic to a word document, print it out and stick it next to your phone. Use it the next time you’re on hold or waiting for a call.