There is only one kind of successful negotiation; it is the kind where both parties come out ahead. I really do not like using the word “win” because that implies a game of some sort where there are winners and losers. Negotiation occurs everywhere in life and life is not a game. To be a successful negotiator, you must have the other person’s interests in mind as well as your own.
People negotiate with their spouses, family members and friends as well as in business. Consider this all too common negotiation session between my 4-year-old daughter and me.
My Daughter: “Daddy? Can I have some ice-cream?”
Me: “You have barely eaten your dinner. If you want dessert, you need to finish your dinner.”
My Daughter: “But I am not hungry. My tummy says ‘No more food!’“
Me: “Then your tummy does not want dessert either”
My Daughter: “No, there is room in there for ice-cream only.”
Me: “Okay, then just finish your chicken.”
My Daughter: “How about three more bites?”
Me: “Seven bites!”
My Daughter: “Four bites!”
Me: “Five BIG bites and finish your milk.”
My Daughter: “Okay, Daddy.”
You can see, in this negotiation session both parties came out ahead. My daughter got her dessert, and I made sure she had eaten most of her meal, which she would otherwise not have eaten. This was a successful negotiation.
If you are the type that went “for the jugular” and got as much as you could from a negotiation, you may THINK you have “won,” but you will end up losing in the long run. Here are a few reasons why this is true.
The key is to approach each negotiation as a partnership rather than a competition. Treat those you are negotiating with as partners and not adversaries. Remember that you are interested in the same common goal—a mutually beneficial arrangement or a win-win situation.
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