Negotiation: The Skill Everyone Needs

Does it sometimes seem difficult to convince another person to participate in a project, or meet a deadline? Do you sometimes feel like you have agreed to do something for another person without getting that person’s cooperation on another project in return? The problem may be that you aren’t using the best strategies for coming to agreement with another person through a process known as “negotiation.”

Negotiation gets a bad rap because it sometimes looks like manipulation of another person to do something they don’t want to do. I contend, however, that we should think of negotiating as a way to make sure that all participants treat one another fairly, openly, and with the intention of finding solutions that work for everyone.

Do you think that you are not in a position that requires you to have good negotiation skills? Think again: do you have to work cooperatively with co-workers? Do you need to ask for time off from work? For a raise? In your personal life, do you have to share household duties with another person? Child-raising issues? Do you ever have to make payment arrangements for a new appliance, or for service scheduling? All of these interactions boil down to give and take communication between two people, and that’s what negotiation is.

What if we started to look at these interactions from a different perspective? The definition of the word negotiate is “to obtain or bring about by discussion.” What if we approached every situation as a discussion that should be conducted openly and honestly, and with the intention of helping everyone who participates?

Over the next 3 weeks we will be exploring how to negotiate using “fair play” techniques. In the meantime, here’s a little “homework” to get you into the right mindset: think about this age-old statement “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” How might that apply to negotiation?