Food for Thought: Develop Your Personal Negotiation Skills
Negotiating skills can help you manage different kinds of life situations, both at work and in your personal relationships.
Many family situations require negotiating with others. Deciding which movie to see, planning how to spend money, choosing a vacation spot, and many other decisions work best when you have these skills. Being a good negotiator enables you to get what you want more often without resorting to becoming aggressive or pushy.
Negotiating with others is more effective than simply demanding what you want or just caving in. These skills enable you to stand up for yourself and get what you want more often without harming relationships with bosses and coworkers.
Negotiating a fair solution makes you feel good about yourself and increases people’s respect for you.
- Plan ahead. They take the time to analyze the situation and think through the strategy that will be acceptable to all. Everyone should win “something.”
- They are willing to consider a wide range of outcomes and options rather than rigidly insisting on a specific result. Negotiators who are most successful are open-minded and avoid being locked in to one outcome. They are willing to consider many possibilities and combinations of options.
- They look for common ground rather than areas of conflict. Pointing out areas where you and the other person are already in agreement conveys an attitude of cooperation and lessens any feeling of opposition.
- They discuss the key issues in order of priority. Have a clear idea of what the two or three key issues are and which is the most important. Start with the most important issues and proceed to those that matter less. If you can reach agreement on the most important things, the lesser issues will most likely be easier to resolve.
Example: Carol wants her next family vacation to be something really special — either a Caribbean cruise or a trip to San Francisco. She and her family have visited relatives or stayed at home for the past few years. She wants the family to have an experience they will always remember before Todd, their adolescent son, grow ups and moves away. She sees the key issues as follows: (a) There are only three years left before Todd leaves. He is not likely to join us for a vacation after he finishes school; (b) It is important to have an exceptional vacation at least once in your life; (c) If we plan ahead and save the money, we will be able to afford the cost of such a trip.
- Skillful negotiators avoid behavior the other person is likely to consider annoying. This includes using sarcasm, using negative body language, or talking loudly. Not only do skilled negotiators avoid such behavior, they work hard at conveying an attitude of cooperation, reasonableness, openness, and friendliness.
- Good negotiators avoid participating in a defend/attack spiral. Rather than perpetuating such a process, the successful negotiator puts a stop to it by choosing not to say anything that would be perceived as aggressive or defensive.
With practice, you can learn to use these simple skills to get more of what you want in life. In fact, these skills help you reach agreements that are more likely to satisfy both parties while maintaining a positive relationship.
Try them in your work life or at home—they work equally well in either setting.
Dr. Leta A. Livoti Ph.D, LCSW, LCPC is a psychotherapist in Thompson Falls. She can be contacted at 827-0700.