Negotiation at Home and at Work

To celebrate that June is a popular month for weddings, in this newsletter we are celebrating the relationships that make our home and business lives possible.

In business, as in any long term relationship, keeping the end in mind is crucial to a lasting and fulfilling connection. More and more businesses are realizing that to maintain a healthy and prosperous business, they need to maintain healthy and mutually beneficial relationships with their customers and clients.

Most business people I know spent a great deal of time trying to find the right people to do business with; either finding customers or finding suppliers. In economics, this is called the Search Activity. (In dating this might also be called the Search Activity.) I have also heard many business people complain about suppliers or buyers because they believed someone didn’t fulfill their part of the bargain. As a result, hurt feelings ensue, and sometimes someone will declare, “ I’m never doing business with them again.” These declarations sound like one of my friends whose recent date did not end well, and announced, “I’m never going out with him again!”

Sometimes what we need is just some negotiation tactics to resolve the difficulties. So, in the spirit of June weddings, we have compiled five secrets to successful negotiation, a.k.a. getting what you want while giving the other person what they want too.

1. Think success. My dating friend who decided their dating relationship was over clearly just gave up on the success of their relationship. Especially during the economic difficulties of the past two years, some people in business have changed their practices, and in some instances, that has been detrimental. In order to be successful in both marriage and in management, both parties have to want to work together for ultimate success.

2. Take a walk in their shoes. Sometimes we’re not willing to try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Sometimes we are so sure that our perspective is correct that we fail to consider the possibility that we are wrong. It helps to take a step back and try to see the situation from the other person’s viewpoint. If you have ever watched a couple argue,(and we’ve all seen people argue) it is usually because of a small misunderstanding that got blown out of proportion. One good tactic is to stop and actually say the words,” I’d like to see this from your perspective. Can you please tell me what happened so that I can better understand?” If they tell you what happened from their experience, then you can see the parts that are missing, and help clarify the situation. Frequently, in both management and marriage, this diffuses problems before they escalate.

3. Just take a walk. Misunderstandings can get emotional both at work and at home. Successful negotiation rarely happens when both parties are angry. If you are truly trying to resolve a situation, don’t have the discussion when you are emotional. Ideally, neither of you should be emotional at the time of the discussion. We used to have a rule in my house: Only one of us can be crazy at one time. That meant that if one person was clearly upset the other one had to back off. As a result what could have been arguments were kept to rational discussions. Sometimes this means deferring conversations until later. Sometimes this means taking a walk, either by yourself or together, to calm down, and give yourself another activity to do while you process through the issues at hand.

4. Do some research and have the facts. If you’re trying to persuade another person to believe in your product, perspective, or purpose make sure that you back up your viewpoint with facts. Sometimes on a personal level, the facts become very vague and blurry. “You never do the vacuuming!” is probably not true. If one party throws out statements that are simply wrong, or so absolute that they cannot be taken seriously, the other party discounts their argument. This is true in the business world as well. Having accurate and current information at hand is more persuasive than emotional diatribes. Have the facts before you engage in the discussion.

5. Realize that life (and happiness) is all about compromise. Very few people get everything they want all the time. The rest of us get what we want some of the time. If the issue is important, (and I mean really important), stick to your guns and do your very best to negotiate for what you want. However, negotiating also means that you look for the ways that the other person wins too. Very few people want to go into a situation where all they do is lose. A good negotiator makes sure that the final outcome is not just acceptable, but is beneficial to both parties. Successful negotiators, both at home and at work, watch out for the other person as well.

Ideally in business, as in a marriage, you want to help each other grow, become better, and be successful. Good negotiation makes that possible.

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