Negotiations are a means of resolving differences between people when imposed settlements are not possible. And because so much of our work and personal lives involve resolving differences, the ability to negotiate effectively is an essential life skill. Almost everything we do involves some kind of negotiation. If you think about it, you’ll realize that you negotiate all the time, every day. You negotiated to get your new job and a raise. You negotiated with coworkers about where to hold your last meeting. You negotiated with your spouse and other loved ones about where to take a vacation. When we buy and sell things, sell ideas, and solve problems that involve others, negotiation gets us what we want. Negotiation is a way to get one’s fair share, whether it’s selling a proposal to your boss, settling a labor dispute, buying real estate, or getting that new car. Most Americans are uncomfortable with negotiations (remember the last time you bought a new car?). This may be the consequence of bad experiences or of feeling unprepared to do them well. Ours, unlike some others in the world, is a haggle-free culture. And most Americans seem to prefer it that way. As evidence, consider the customer response to Saturn Corporation’s introduction of its no-haggle sales policy: Here’s the car, here’s the price. People loved it.
You can learn to be a good negotiator if:
- You know what you want and what you are willing to give up.
- You know (or have a good idea) what the other side wants and
what it is willing to give up.
- You come to the table with a ‘‘how can we both win’’ attitude.
- You are skilled in problem solving, listening, basic conflict management, and the uses of tactics and strategies in negotiating.