Like it or not, we are all negotiators. Negotiations are a part of life. Whether you are a housewife negotiating a deal at a meat market, or a corporate director negotiating a $50m deal, you are negotiating. And we do this literally everyday. Life is about give-and-take and this topic applies to everyone from all walks of life. Before I begin with providing actual negotiations tips, advice, and s0-called “tactics”, let me first explain what negotiations is.
Negotiation is communication
Negotiation is communicating with others. It is part of the give-and-take process in life. If you want something in life, you must negotiate for it. If something is already given to you, you can negotiate for more. Thus, negotiating never stops and we are constantly negotiating for better things in life.
Negotiation is not just money, but love, care, and emotions
We use negotiation to get more things in life. Some people negotiate for money, whilst others negotiate for love, care, emotional support, and feelings of security. The fact is that resources in this world are limited – we all have to learn to share them together, and what we get in life may depend on our own personal needs and wants, and of course, how well we are able to negotiate for them.
Negotiation skills are interpersonal skills
Some people think about negotiations being two adversaries sitting at both ends of a table, and engage in heated discussions. That is not true. Negotiations do not need to be adversarial (or what we may call “position-based” bargaining). Negotiations can be learning to understand the other side, and figuring out a way to benefit both sides. Some call this “win-win”, whilst a better phrase may be “expanding the pie”.
Negotiations requires appreciation for the other side
Negotiation is about putting yourself in the other’s shoes, and figuring out what the other side really wants. It can be physical (cash, products, goods, etc.), or it can be emotional (understanding, respect, love, etc.). You need to understand the other side’s needs in order to be effective in negotiating. In other words, you must respect the other side, even if you think have more “leverage”.
Negotiations are about helping others to help you
Negotiations are not just about you winning. It’s about helping others to help you. You negotiate because the other has something you want. But clearly, you also have something the other wants. It’s about exchanging things of unequal value. I know all of this sounds so abstract, so let me give you an example below.
An example of trading things of unequal value
A housewife goes to a meat market to buy pork. To a housewife at a meat market, a $20 bill is clearly less important than $20’s worth of pork. On the other than hand, a $20 bill is more important to a meat vendor than the $20’s worth of pork he is selling.
In this transaction, both side’s needs are satisfied. The housewife is helping the meat vendor to earn the price difference between $20 and the purchase value of the pork, whilst the vendor is helping the housewife to some pork which she can use to cook a delicious dinner for her husband and children. Great for both sides.
An example of creating a mutually beneficial relationship
The housewife is pleased with the vendor’s pork. And next time she goes to the market, she chit chats with the vendor, and finds out that the vendor’s daughter is applying for a primary school place in the neighborhood. It turns out that the housewife’s husband is the principal of the primary school the vendor’s daughter is applying for.
The housewife looks behind the vendor and sees his daughter studying and busy doing her homework. She is impressed with her work ethics. She talks to her husband, who happily agrees to let the vendor’s daughter have an interview with him. The housewife arranges the interview and the daughter succeeds to earn a place at the school.
The meat vendor is very touched by the housewife’s kindness. Ever since that day, the vendor would always save the best meats for the housewife and give her more value for the money, just to show his appreciation. The housewife and her family benefit with even more delicious dinners.
As you can see, negotiation is not about winning or losing. It is about helping others to help you achieve your goals in life, no matter what it is that you are aiming for. In my future blog posts, I will give practical tips which may assist you in achieving those goals you are aiming for, whilst helping others succeed in the process.