Almost from the minute we wake up until when our head hits the pillow, we find ourselves negotiating our way through the day. It might be negotiating with yourself for just five more minutes of sleep, when you hit the snooze button. Or negotiating with your child over their outfit choice or what they eat for breakfast. We negotiate our way to work on the road or in public transportation; merging, giving someone the right away or deciding not to allow someone to merge in front of us.
Once we get to the office, the negotiating begins in earnest. So how do you handle these situations? From big to small, they all require some decision on our part. We may decide to just let something go and give in to what someone else requires or there might come a situation where you need to put your foot down. How do you face these encounters?
Aaron Shepherd recently wrote an article entitled Five Tips to Negotiate Better with Just About Anyone that I found very interesting. In a quick look, the five tips are:
- Seek a win/win outcome
- Look for commonalities
- Acknowledge objections
- Broaden the pie
All five tips are great and I encourage you to click over and read the entire article, but I wanted to focus on the last one. Broaden the pie is a great way of saying…step back and look at the bigger picture. Is there another way to approach the situation? Is there a different angle you haven’t considered?
Frequently we go into a negotiation with a specific outcome in mind. Take for example an unhappy customer. The customer tells us they are not happy and one of the first possible solutions that comes to our mind is “give them a refund.” However, that may not be what is best for the situation. Truthfully, the customer may even be hoping for a refund. However, if they initially contracted for your products or services – they clearly had a need. If you give them a refund, they are back at ground zero and really no one is happy. (Remember Aaron’s tip #2 – look for the win/win).
If you step back and look at the entire pie instead of just the piece that says “refund” you may discover that the customer really doesn’t know what they want, they just know that what they have right now isn’t right. So through active listening (tip #1) and acknowledging their objections (tip #4) and considering some out of the box options (tip #5) you can ultimately arrive at a new piece of the pie that allows for everyone to be happy.
Stepping back, taking off the blinders, forgetting your initial expectations and considering the situation from a broader perspective may not only allow you to come to a better win/win negotiation, but can also create strong relationships.
Think about a situation at work (or at home – significant other fails to do a household chore the way you wish or in the time frame you desire) that you’ve recently encountered. How was it resolved? Was there a win/win solution? If not, what tip from the five above could have been used to make for a different ending?
One of the best parenting negotiation tips I learned was the technique of giving choices so your child feels in control but you ultimately control the situation. If picking out acceptable clothing is a daily negotiation, why not select three options you approve of and then let them choose the final outfit? If you have kids with different interests who insist on selecting the DVD the family watches, why not let one child pick out three DVDs and then let the other child choose from those selections.
Negotiating is something we do every day and if we master a few basic skills, we’ll approach challenging conversations with a fresh and positive attitude.