You don’t need calculus to live right and proper, but you will need to know the basics to get by in life. The same can be said for negotiation. You don’t need to be as good as Henry Kissinger, but you’ll want to know the basics of negotiation to get by in the world.
Even experienced negotiators use simple techniques for everyday issues. The word ‘negotiation’ seems big, but it is what parents do with kids who don’t want to sleep yet. It’s what couples do when they’re discussing where to have dinner and each person has a different place in mind. Negotiation isn’t just for boardrooms – it’s for bedrooms and living rooms as well.
The three steps you’ll need to get to yes in everyday negotiations are:
Where you reveal what you want
Where the details are considered
Where the deal is agreed upon and the exchange is made
Getting to yes is as simple as these three steps, but each step has sub-steps that can help you accomplish what you want at each stage. Here is each step in greater detail.
What you want to accomplish here is to make sure that whoever you’re negotiating with has a clear and concise idea of what you want out of the negotiations.
The first step in keeping things clear is to tell the other person what you want from him. Make it crystal clear that it is something you want from him, whether it is permission or an act he needs to perform. Make your request clear and precise.
- “I want you to go to bed and sleep.” Your request here is crystal clear.
You should also explain to them why you want whatever it is that you asked of them. Especially difficult requests should be prefaced with an explanation, to clearly illustrate the legitimacy of your need. For requests wherein you are yourself unclear what you need exactly, explaining the legitimacy of your need may help you figure out the specifics.
- “Go to bed, because you’re tired and you need rest for tomorrow.” This makes it clear that it is out of concern and that it is in their best interest to comply. It legitimizes your request succinctly.
Now, offer them something in exchange for your request. Even if you’ve got nothing, you can always tell them that you will be extremely grateful. Alternatively, you can offer to not do something, such as when you make a threat.
- “I don’t want to have to get mad at you.” It is a clear threat that you’ll get angry if he does not comply.
This part is largely about listening, asking, and interpreting what he or she wants from you in return. He may make counter-offers at this point and will likely reveal why he’s resisting. Knowing why he’s resisting your offer or listening to the counter-offer will give you an idea of what he’s looking to get out of it. Ask him why he wants it.
- “What do you need to do tonight that you can’t do tomorrow?” This tells him that you are listening and willing to consider that his needs are legitimate as well.
Once you have an idea of what he wants and why, you can start thinking of alternatives to make it acceptable to both of you. Let him know that you may be willing to change your terms or that you are open to an acceptable alternative. At this point, you may end up receiving another counter-offer.
- “You should be asleep by nine, but…” The “should” in this sentence signals the fact that you are listening and that you are open to an amenable alternative.
Now that you and the other person know what you each want, you can start discussing an alternative that pleases you both. Negotiation does not always end in compromise where neither of you gets what you want. There is no reason that you can’t both be happy. This is all about giving him something that will inspire him to withdraw their objections.
- “Fine, you can stay up another thirty minutes to finish the show, but you have to be awake and ready by seven.” This is a deal which makes you both happy. You make sure that he is ready to get up when it is time to go, while giving him room to enjoy his show.
This is where you get him or her to agree to the newly considered terms. Summarize what each of you will get out of it. Remind them that this is what was considered important and that with this, both of you will get what you want. You will still need to pay attention to him and see if there are more complaints.
- “If I let you stay up another thirty minutes, will you go to sleep after your show?” This clearly shows that you have considered the counteroffer and amended your original demand to reflect its legitimacy.
Now, all you need to do is to make sure that he or she is absolutely clear on the details and that you are on the same page. Re-summarize what you agreed upon. If you are negotiating with a legal entity, such as a store, make sure to have it in writing.
- “You’ll get to bed after your show, right?” This restates what you have agreed upon and stresses his part of the bargain.
Complete the deal. If there are any exchanges, this is where it would be performed. If the other person agreed to anything, this is the point where he or she performs it. Get any legal documentation you need if your negotiations involve something formal. If need be, follow up on the other party to see if he or she lived up to the deal.
- “It’s nice to see that you went straight to bed after your show last night.” This tells he that you recognize the fact that he lived up to his part of the bargain.
Negotiations are performed every day, often informally, so there is no reason to be inept at it. With a little practice, you’ll find that negotiating properly without even thinking about it. Always remember to keep an open mind and to listen to the other party. Communication is at the heart of every successful negotiation.