Negotiation: The Skill Everyone Needs


This is the third in a series of four blog posts in which I am talking about how “fair play” negotiating techniques can be adapted to everyday use. (link to first post and second post)

Did you solve the riddle from last week? What happens to a tree that is stiff and inflexible?

Answer: In strong winds (my metaphor for acrimonious negotiating,) it will topple over and break or damage its root system!

Don’t be a stiff and inflexible tree during your fair play negotiating: you don’t want to topple over and damage your root system (my metaphor for the relationship with other person.)

Here are some tips for keeping flexible but strong during your discussions:

• Make sure you are working with (not against) the person you are negotiating with.

• Don’t make snap judgments based on emotions. Even if you have known the person your whole life, remember each new discussion involves a different set of emotions.

• Invest in the discussion. That means you need to be sure that you are sincere about trying to find solutions that work for both of you.

• Actively listen to the other person. Actively listening is a three-step process.

Step 1: listen to what the other person is actually saying (not what you think he or she will say)

Step 2: listen to the way the person is saying things. Non-verbal clues are just as important as what is being said. For example: is the person smiling, frowning, or agitated?

Step 3: what is the intention behind what is being said? Could there an unmentioned deadline that he or she is facing?

• Always be on the lookout for a mutually agreeable solution. It may not be obvious, and it usually requires creativity and flexibility from all participants.

Homework: compare your discussions to writing a letter. Below I have listed the parts of a letter. What would you say in each part of the letter if it were a negotiation?