Negotiation skill is one of the most valuable skills that any person could have and it can be applied to all areas of life. There are a lot of professional training available on negotiation skills and I have done a few in my career. Funny thing is, I have learned a lot about negotiation in the last few years from my daughter than any book or training has taught me. Therefore, let me share with you 5 things I learned from my daughter about negotiation.
Understand the other party’s situation before negotiating
The success of a negotiation depends a lot on how the other party is feeling. When my daughter is overtired and grumpy, there is no point in doing any sort of negotiation, be it asking her to eat, packing toys away or helping out with chores. Yes, she needs to learn all these but the timing just isn’t right. I have learned that in those situations, it’s better to postpone negotiation than fight a failed battle. It’s also important to remember that just because you have some sort of influencing power or authority, it doesn’t mean you have an upper hand in negotiating with them. Just because I am my daughter’s mother and that I’ve given birth to her, it doesn’t mean I can get her to agree to everything I say. Every situation is different and you have to tailor your style and offering to cater for the needs of the situation and the other party.
Do not make the first offer
Never ever make the first offer even if you know what the other party wants. Let them tell you and then work from there. For example, my daughter might want to eat two pieces of cake, and I’d like her to have just one. Rather than offering her a piece of cake, I’d wait to hear what she wants. If she tells me that she wants two pieces, I can tell her to have one right now on a special plate and save the other one for the next day. As long as I make an offer that’s hard to refuse, in this case, a special plate and a chance to eat cake again the next day, negotiation will be a success.
Keep an open mind
Sometimes we get so caught up with our own assumptions and judgements that we forget to see things differently. I have found that in my occasions I am pleasantly surprised by how understanding, generous and kind a four year old can be. Keeping an open mind helps us communicate with empathy and create a win-win negotiation. After all, we want to play a long game and not a short one.
Don’t be aggressive or pushy
This may sound like a common sense but many times, we could come across as pushy when we are too eager to close a deal. With my daughter, she is a reflection of myself. If my tone of voice is aggressive, hers will become aggressive. On the other hand, if I’m calm and relaxed, she will respond in a similar way too. Negotiation is a two-way street and at the end of the day, it is important for both parties to feel satisfied with the end result. Feeling of satisfaction cannot be achieved when one feels threatened or pushed into agreeing something.
Great listening skill gives you an advantage when negotiating. Listen for words that are not directly spoken may not be easy but it is not impossible. By watching gestures, facial impressions, taking note of tone of voice and choice of words, you can get valuable information and understand what type of proposition would work best for the other party. For example, my daughter would always say she is not tired to go to bed, even when her eyes are puffy and she is yawning. By listening to her unspoken words and watching non verbal cues, I am able to provide an offer that she will likely agree. The key point is to make the other person feel like it is in their best interest to accept the offer.
Negotiations do not just happen at workplaces. We are constantly negotiating, be it at home, at work, at schools and even when we are out and about, at family gatherings, or networking events. As a mother of a young child, a lot of my negotiations happen at home, with my daughter. The key to great negotiation skill is, practice practice practice. With practice, one feels more confident and relaxed and is able to negotiate in a way that results in a win-win deal. So keep practising and even if you don’t do too well some days, some days you will be surprised at how good you’ve become compared to a few years ago.