How to Win Without Giving In

What a 4 year old can teach you about negotiating agreements.

Lisa B. Marshall
4-minute read
Episode #21

Compromise May Not Be The Best Solution

For example, my girls could have decided to simply take turns with the Barbie. But clearly, a turn-taking compromise wouldn’t have been as good a solution as the collaboration. So, the main tip from today’s episode is to always ask and consider underlying interests, yours and those of your negotiation partner. This may help you discover a better solution, like Ariana did. 

But what else can we learn from the Barbie negotiation? Emotion plays a role in all negotiations. I know when I argue a position I tend to get emotionally attached. I want it, because I want it. And when I’m all worked up, I’m not open to collaboration or compromise. Just like my girls when they were each tugging at poor Barbie.

Emotions Are a Part of Negotiation

However, if you’re willing to recognize that both your emotion and the emotion from the other side is normal and legitimate, it can help you to facilitate the negotiation. (In fact, if it’s a really bitter dispute, the feelings and emotions may be more important than the content).

Let the other side blow off steam. Try not to react to the emotional outbursts. If it’s really heated, you may want a third party to help facilitate the process. I always imagine it’s like two boxers going back to their corners; taking a little break to relax and think through strategy.

When you come back, you are in the right frame of mind for listening. Without carefully listening to both the interests and emotions of the other party, it’s impossible to develop a creative solution.

What I Learned From My Girls

So as crazy as it sounds, I think we can actually learn quite a bit from the Barbie battle. First, effective negotiation can be learned. If pre-schoolers can do it, so can you. By discussing underlying interests and not getting hung up on positions we can develop creative solutions to conflict. Finally, it’s important to remember that emotions will be part of every negotiation. We just need to incorporate that into our strategy as well.

With these tips, I hope you’re better able to navigate your next negotiation.

This is Lisa B. Marshall, passionate about communication, your success is my business.

If you haven’t connected yet, you can find me in all the usual places, like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and of course, plain old email. Really, take me up on my offer, I’d love to connect.

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If you have a question, send email to publicspeaker@quickanddirtytips.com. For information about keynote speeches or workshops visit lisabmarshall.com.

Woman image courtesy of Shutterstock


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.

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