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