The Art of Negotiating

When you hear the word negotiation, what do you think?

Lawyers shouting in a courtroom drama? People in suits bargaining out the details on the sale of a multi-billion dollar corporation? The President keeping us out of a war situation? You probably ultimately come up with images of people in some sort of power struggle.

The truth is, you negotiate every day! You negotiate with your parents to stay out late and with other chapter members on the best way to tackle a project. You even negotiate with your best friend because you want to see the scary paranormal movie and they want to see the latest zombie flick. Most things in life are a negotiation, even if you don’t realize it.

The dictionary describes negotiation as “discussion aimed at reaching an agreement.” Now that sounds better than your initial thought, doesn’t it?

There are different styles of negotiation and tactics but every good negotiation follows these three simple guidelines:

1. Have a win/win mentality.

Negotiations work best (and go much more smoothly) when everyone feels like they are benefitting. Go into any negotiation with a “win/win” mentality vs. win/lose approach. You want everyone to come away from a negotiation feeling like they’re getting something

2. Ask for more than what you’ll settle for.

Are you familiar with the concept of “starting high”? In a negotiation, you may not get everything you want. Start by asking for everything (or a little more) than you want. Sometimes they agree to things you never think possible. But, just in case that doesn’t happen, you still have wiggle room to come down and get what you really want.

3. Keep in mind that there is give and take from both sides.

It is unlikely that both sides will get what they want. Know what is most important to you and what you are willing to give up to get it.

For example: You want to go to a concert with friends Friday night and a movie Saturday. Your parents want you to stay home and study all weekend for a big test Monday.

You can talk  (negotiate) with them so that you go to the concert Friday night, study for the test Saturday and go to the movie next weekend. They’re letting you go to the concert Friday (what you really wanted). You’re studying Saturday (what they wanted) and you can see the movie another time. Each side gave up something AND still got what they wanted.

Negotiation can sound scary. It might seem like something that you’re not sure you want to do. But, it’s a necessary part of everyday life and you’re probably a more skilled negotiator than you think.

Remember to go into it with a win/win mentality, ask for more than you’re willing to settle for, and remember that there will be give and take from both sides. Then you’ll be prepared for whatever negotiation situations come your way.

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