You’re negotiating more than you think. Many of us consider negotiating to be something we do infrequently; perhaps only at salary reviews or when making a substantial purchase like a new car or house. But you’re negotiating daily: defining deadlines, making counteroffers, arranging meetings, putting forward ideas. You say yes, you say no. You’re negotiating with colleagues, friends, family, even your pets.
As I write this post, a micro-negotiation ensues: my cat stares at me knowingly as he knocks a pen off of my coffee table. He strolls over and pushes a coaster off of the table with a thud. His paw hovers over a hardback book, ready to push it, giving me a look that says, “I could do this all day.” He’s already eaten plenty, but If I give him a treat now, he’ll stop causing mischief. I give in to his demands before he breaks anything. I can’t help but notice my cat is a better negotiator than me.
The sooner you realise you are negotiating hundreds of times each day, the sooner you can take advantage of opportunities to improve your technique and succeed in the important negotiations when they come along.
Who do you negotiate with the most?
Many people would say their work colleagues or their own family are the source of most negotiations. But really, you negotiate with yourself more than anybody else. Without even thinking about it, you’re doing it constantly:
- Do I buy that expensive gadget now, or wait until it’s more affordable?
- Do I raise that difficult conversation with a colleague, or leave it until tomorrow?
- If I go for a run today, shall I reward myself with a takeaway tonight?
Negotiating with yourself is a constant internal tug of war, with different inner voices competing for attention and debating in your mind - there’s a great article by Erica Fox on this subject that showcases how you can learn to listen to your inner negotiation team.
Honing your technique with daily negotiations
It’s no secret that good negotiators are more likely to secure a pay rise, get the job they apply for, or buy the house they want at a great price. Start looking at your daily negotiations with others and think about how they go – do you normally give in to the requests of others? Are people usually persuaded to go along with your ideas, or do your arguments go in one ear and out the other?
There are simple techniques you can use to improve a lot of these daily negotiations:
- Pursue win-win outcomes
- Don’t get stuck on one detail for too long
- Make the first offer to anchor negotiations
- Set walkaway conditions
- Get comfortable with silence
Read our post on How to Negotiate Successfully for full details on these strategies.
Even seemingly irrelevant, slight changes can influence the outcome of minor daily negotiations – like how you serve your food. A 2019 study published in Psychological Science found that pairs of participants who shared one communal bowl of crisps and salsa before negotiations resolved a hypothetical wage dispute significantly faster than pairs who’d eaten the same snack from individual bowls. The study concluded that the process of sharing a plate of food with another person, and the required coordination that follows, influences social interactions and promotes cooperation.
Perhaps the next time you need to ask your partner for a favour or broach a tricky subject, you should serve a sharing platter for dinner first.
Your next negotiation is moments away
By being conscious of the micro-negotiations you take part in daily, you can begin to employ negotiation techniques in more casual scenarios. You can start to anticipate the most mutually beneficial outcome of negotiations, and plan how you’re going to reach that outcome.
If you’re feeling inspired and want to test your negotiation skills now, try out this demo of Nibble to get a great personal discount on a Bluetooth Speaker.
All of these minor negotiations are excellent practice for when you need to negotiate something more impactful like a pay rise or a house purchase. Suddenly, negotiating doesn’t seem intimidating when you realise you’re doing it hundreds of times each day.
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