You have been negotiating ever since you were old enough to disagree with your parents about whether or not you should eat your cabbage. We all negotiate, every day, with our workmates, partners, children, friends and acquaintances. Most of the time we might not even be aware that we are doing it because it is such an everyday event.
Often, we fail to realise that many of the transactions that we engage in every day are a form of negotiation. Some of them are fixed negotiations where we wouldn’t even think of trying to bargain, such as paying for a carton of apple juice in the supermarket. In other similar situations though, we might try to bargain. If the pair of trousers we chose from the department store had a button missing, we might ask for a discount. If we were buying a similar pair of trousers from a tailor in Hong Kong, we might not just ask for a discount, but engage in some haggling before reaching an agreed price.
Other negotiations which we carry out every day, maybe without thinking about them, may range from agreeing with a colleague as to who should do a particular piece of work, the most convenient date for a group to meet again, or who will collect whose children from school today.
In fact, many people prefer to negotiate. They don’t like asking favours and doing or giving nothing in return; neither do they like to feel that they are doing something for nothing. If you ask your neighbours to look after your house while you are on holiday, you may feel under an obligation to them. Perhaps you bring them back a present from your holiday, but may not feel that you have discharged your obligation until they ask the same favour from you. A sense of ‘fair play’ is often present in our most informal relationships. So what’s the problem? If you’ve been doing it all this time, what are you worried about? Why isn’t it easy?
The reason that it isn’t always easy, why sometimes it looks or feels as if it’s going to be a problem, is that from the cabbage negotiation on through the bedtime, home from the party time, borrowing the car time, getting the report finished on time negotiations, you may not have always felt that the outcome was an acceptable one for you. You didn’t always win. Sometimes you may have felt as if you invariably lost.
For some people, the very fact that the transaction they are about to undertake is labelled with the name ‘A Negotiation’ means that they become nervous and concerned about it. This article aims to make it easier to treat negotiating as a common or garden everyday event. By making it more comfortable and easy to negotiate, it will be easier for you to achieve a result that is pleasing both to you and to the other people involved.