What is Negotiation?
The business dictionary definitions of negotiation are a bit daunting:
1. General: Bargaining (give and take) process between two or more parties (each with its own aims, needs, and viewpoints) seeking to discover a common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict. Noun form of the verb negotiate.
2. Banking: Accepting or trading a negotiable instrument.
3. Contracting: Use of any method to award a contract other than sealed bidding.
4. Trading: Process by which a negotiable instrument is transferred from one party (transferor) to another (transferee) by endorsement or delivery. The transferee takes the instrument in good faith, for value, and without notice of any defect in the title of the transferor, and obtains an indefeasible title.
Bargaining, Trading, Contracting Method, Business, Boardroom Discussions etc. That’s what most people conjure in their minds when they think of negotiation. To many negotiation seems daunting.
Negotiation is simply the technical term for discussions or conversations to reach an agreement, whether that agreement is a multi-million dollar deal, how to get your kids to do their homework, or where to meet for dinner.
We negotiate every day of our lives and don’t realize we are using skills to negotiate. However, there are many things we are “leaving on the table.” Things that we could have received a better deal on but didn’t think to ask or felt uncomfortable pushing back when someone is pushing us to agree to something.
For example, say you had an old TV that didn’t work any longer and you found a place online that says they pick up TV’s for free. You call them and the guy asks you to measure it. When you tell him the measurements and he realizes it’s just a small TV. He says he’s going to charge you $10 to pick it up. The website says FREE and that they pay for certain appliances as well. He insists you won’t find a better deal anywhere. What do you do? Many will just accept it and pay the $10. What you should say in that situation is that the website says FREE and why is he charging you when the website not only says free but they actually pay for some types of appliances. Most likely this will result in a free pickup which won’t happen unless you negotiate with the guy.
People normally feel uncomfortable pushing back because it feels confrontational. In a way it is. You are “confronting” an unreasonable offer. All negotiation is simply offer and acceptance or offer and counteroffer. One person makes an offer and you either accept it or make a counteroffer. Getting comfortable making counteroffers is paramount to successful negotiation.
Understanding that negotiation is just a discussion or conversation is the first step to having a strong negotiation foundation.
See you next week!
Eldonna Lewis Fernandez, MSgt USAF Retired