The art of negotiation
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!
So 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.
A 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.