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Negotiation is an incredibly important part of life, and can also be one of its most challenging endeavours. The ar...
Negotiation is an incredibly important part of life, and can also be one of its most challenging endeavours. The art of negotiation is not the art of merging—it is the art and practice of balancing. When two negotiating parties mingle, they each retain their particular identity and needs.
Marriage is a potent example of sustained negotiation, wherein both parties must continuously navigate complex agreements while pursuing their individuality, integrity and goals. Whether in the realm of personal relationships or professional ones, negotiation is a skill that takes constant vigilance and attention.
When negotiating, two parties need to determine how they can meet one another’s needs with a workable compromise. Ideally, there will be a net gain for both parties due to the positive outcome of skilful negotiation.
"Strong arming" and bullying the other party has no part in effective negotiation. You may have experienced this if you’ve had the IRS knocking at your door—a situation where the other party left no space for negotiation.
The art of negotiation can actually become enjoyable with some diligent practice, resulting in win-win outcomes for the various arenas of life.
Here are 7 ways you can become a better negotiator.
The two basic principles are A., identity and B., empathy.
Our needs don’t coincide because we are unique identities.
I don’t want you to surrender your position for my happiness, because that results in an imbalance.
An example would be a husband who does not want to have sex with his wife. The wife’s position could be, “Well, he has to have sex with me even if he does not want to.” IN this case, the wife’s position is not negotiation—it is entitlement. This is extremely toxic behaviour that in this case involves the bodily integrity of another person.
Short-term it may be great but it may cost you in the long run. If the wife comes up with a new bedroom activity that the husband can agree to, then there is a platform for further negotiation. Plan A is that you are forced to have sex. Plan B is that you don’t have sex. Plan X is that you both do that filthy thing that normally stays in Vegas and both parties are happy.
The recognition that plan X is better than the first two is critical. Both people need to know that their desires can be tweaked and in the process a solution can be found that can exceed all expectations.
For example, if a car dealership has a promotional car from a year ago lying around, they may offer the car at two thousand dollars off. When discussing the deal with a potential buyer, they may instead offer free gas for a year, in which case they unload the car because they need the space for better cars and the buyer is blown away by the deal. Plan X needs to turn out to be better and both parties need to get what is best for them.
I know this has been mentioned but it is worth repeating, mainly because most people think a negotiation requires a “give a little, get a little” compromise where people begrudgingly accept. This is not true and it will lead to mediocre improvements at best. Plan X results in a “wow” moment where people are happy with themselves for continuing their mingling.
It’s infatuation when a couple does not care where they go for the holiday. It’s love when the husband wants to go the mountains and the wife wants to go to the beach so the husband decides the beach will work for him so the wife is happy.
It’s a negotiation where the husband goes to the mountains and the wife goes to the beach. Maybe a better option would be a third location they might both prefer—for example, one that has both beach and mountains.
Popular belief says that failure is not an option. In fact it’s not always bad, it just means a “plan X” type of deal was not reached. It means there was a compromise. Sometimes due to time limits and other factors compromises will be made and ultimately they are for the best. But in the scope of a negotiation, anything short of plan X is a failure in the creative process to find the desired solution.
This certainly contains elements of humility, but more curiosity. Differences can lead to a great understanding. If a wife feels neglected while her husband plays video games, maybe the wife will take interest, if for no other reason than to understand what is going on in the seemingly infantile mind of her midnight digital warrior.
Maybe the wife likes the first person shooter games and suggests that they play laser tag or paintball. These activities can be hysterically fun and could even involve the neighbours. Differences in opinion can lead to a greater understanding of your partner and, ideally, to self-growth.
Let’s say you discover your boyfriend has been looking at porn. Don’t operate from a mindset of “He’s shamed, I’m virtuous.” Instead, explore his mind. Find out what may be exciting about it, what happens when he goes long periods of time with or without it and so on. Tying in a healthy dose of curiosity will lead to a much more honest and open relationship that has a chance for improvement, whereas scorn and ridicule will only make things worse.