David Cameron’s appeal to “optimism” as a part of the UK’s recovery programme, is spot on. However, what he could have appealed for is an improvement in the negotiating skills of ‘UK Plc’.

Having a positive mindset is part of the toolkit of a successful negotiator, but UK Plc needs more than that. In all the discussion about the imperative to generate economic growth I never hear effective negotiating technique being mentioned as an agent of that growth. Yet every day, negotiated deals are underpinning UK economic activity – both for domestic and exported goods and services. If UK Plc could get 10% more value out of all those deals through effective negotiation then recovery would be assured.

Effective negotiators are able to manage successfully;

1) Their own mindset and the mindset of those around them
2) The process of the negotiation
3) Their own behaviour and that of others.

Negotiating mindset is critical and David Cameron is right to refer to a more positive outlook as being a pre-requisite of success. This applies at the level of everyday general experience (which is the sense in which he meant it). If we allow ourselves to be panicked by jittery, doom-laden headlines; if we are paralysed by fear into economic inactivity then a negative outcome is assured.

If we can instead believe that every disrupted current business model presents an opportunity for discovering new ways of being successful and new forms of commerce, then we stand a much better chance of economic recovery arriving quicker. If we believe it ourselves we influence those around us – if we influence enough of them it makes the difference between “sogginess” and “success” (see article in guardian.co.uk here).

But this also applies in a wider deal-making context. All around the UK, every day, thousands of deals are being done by individuals, SME’s, Corporates, and even Governments. If those deals are being approached with a positive mindset designed to ensure a collaborative outcome for all the participants then that is the first step to everybody getting more of what they want.

The same applies to managing negotiating process and behaviour. Negotiating “process” is all about managing the 7 “stages” of any negotiation, from preparation through to climate setting, exploring needs, finding coinage (concessions which can meet those needs) bidding, bargaining and close. Managing negotiating behaviour is all about choosing the right negotiating behaviour for the right situation, the right stage, and the person you are dealing with. Too many of us get stuck using our favourite behaviour all the time, when there at least 12 different behaviours to choose from – do I “push”, do I “pull”, do I “join”, do I “part”? It’s a tactical choice to be made each time.

These skills are rarely practised or taught yet they underpin virtually all economic activity, because all such activity has a deal behind it – whether with a supplier, a Bank, a manufacturer, a distributor, a service client or indeed a consumer – when brands seek to engage our attention and attract our wallet, that is a negotiation too.

David Cameron was right to talk about the importance of a positive attitude, but it is only the tip of the negotiating iceberg. Miss that point and we may yet sink…