The art of negotiation

A385

Life is a chain of negotiations. Negotiation begins from the morning we get up till we go off to sleep. We are negotiating every day; from buying vegetables, fruit, groceries, hiring domestic help, buying gadgets, clothes, entertainment, accessories, car, home, taking a job, marriage, child’s admission in school/college, tuitions, you name any matter in life, we are busy negotiating. Negotiation is one of the most common activities in the history of mankind and it is important for our survival. Negotiations don’t always happen as per our information, determination, our opinions and perceptions. It is always better to frame the negotiation around mutual interests. Negotiation is a skill. Exposure and experience help in enhancing the skill of negotiation.

Negotiation is a method by which people settle differences. It is a process by which compromise or agreement is reached while avoiding arguments as much as possible. In any disagreement, individuals justifiably aim to achieve the best possible outcome for their position (or an organization they represent). However, the principles of fairness, justice to seek mutual benefit and maintaining a relationship are the keys to a successful outcome.

Children from age three start understanding the art of negotiating. I don’t want to go to school, I don’t want to get up now, my friend is nasty, and my brother is not good, I will not drink milk if you want me to do this – first do so and so for me. The reality is that every individual is different and has different needs and wants. And, every individual responds, agrees and disagrees differently. Each person negotiates in a different way.

The simple fact is that we negotiate each day at every level in life from our childhood till we die. From talking to the gardener to water the plant for five minutes extra, at the airport bypassing the security line, at the cinema hall asking a stranger to buy tickets because he’s slightly ahead of you, asking ten more questions to doctor after basic problem resolved, talking to the housing society secretary about giving few more services in the maintenance charges – we use methods and tactics to get what we want and how we want things. Hence our life is full of events from small to big that require us to negotiate. Be it our personal life, social life, and professional life – everywhere we want the best!

A383So what do negotiate all through our lives? We negotiate happiness. We try our best to get things that will make us happy. We all know that we do need to stand up for our own advantage and rights. Hence we negotiate to survive during all good and bad times in our life.

A good negotiator is open-minded, charming, articulate, experienced, patient but assertive, flexible and understands the other side well. A good negotiator is the one who does his homework well before discussions. He knows when to close the negotiation because it cannot be a continuing process. Any negotiator has its limits. A good negotiator is empathetic, he responds by acknowledging the behaviors, values, and goals of others. While he respects himself, he respects other’s feelings also. Knowing how to negotiate lessens the chances of others taking you for a ride. Remember, negotiating a fair solution makes you feel good about yourself and increases others’ respect for you.

A384A rational negotiation is often optimal for both parties. It is presumed that both parties will act in balanced manner. But, from the history of mankind we have seen that people frequently act irrationally when they negotiate and it is difficult, if not impossible, to quantify human emotions with any formula. We wonder at times why few people change or abandon their ideas and principals easily – they talk something and do exactly different.

Assumptions, reasoning, beliefs and uncertainties make negations trickier. Even with the best preparation, you may not always be able to negotiate a successful outcome. Having an alternative plan always helps. It reduces your own internal pressures. I always have liked this quote by John F. Kennedy “We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

And, a worst alternative to a negotiation is canceling or delaying an activity. Therefore, master the art of negotiation.

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Over the course of my life, I have done all possible jobs that one can think of – front desk assistant, telephone operator, clerical work, accounts assistant, inventory officer, sales woman, sales manager, tutor, lecturer, professor, director...etc. The range of job designations and experience of working in diverse roles has given me strength to think, help people, increase customer satisfaction, promote products, and off course build brands. When I look back at my career, in some jobs I excelled, in some I continued with odds. But the fact is that the diversity in my career has strengthened me as a person and definitely enhanced my skills. Every job taught me something or the other. I love meeting people, reading, travelling, listening to music, cooking, gardening, teaching, writing. Blogging has been a recent addition and am loving it. It has become my biggest hobby. Blogging has changed my life. My blog is wide-ranging manifestation of the way I think. I am a creative individual; I write because I have the urge to translate expressions of life. Over the years I studied and added some degrees as well. I have a PhD in Marketing Management from University of Pune, a post doctoral D.Litt (Doctor of letters) from Mumbai University in strategic management. I am a Professor of Management Studies with 16 years of teaching experience and have over 20 years industry experience. My core teaching areas are Marketing Strategy and General Management. As a teacher, I have always maintained the academic rigor in my classroom, I have always believed and practiced academic engagement while lecturing, I believe in experiential teaching-learning. I truly believe that education is interdisciplinary; therefore I have successfully guided 15 students for their PhD degree across various sectors in business management which includes a broad base of research coursework coupled with an area of specialization. I write on various management topics, research, news and higher education for students. And, the general section of articles on my blog relate to my interests in life. Happy reading to you all!

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