Do you negotiate like a child or a grown up?

Have you ever tried to negotiate with a 2 year old?

Well, when my son was 2 years old he suddenly discovered that he had a will - a very strong will at that. Typical of children that age, he was far more interested in getting what he wants than complying with his mother or father's wishes.

It seems to me that as children we tend to be assertive rather than accommodating in our communication with others. We are only interested in satisfying our own needs and wants rather than accommodating the needs and wants of others around us. It's only as we grow older that we learn the world does not in fact revolve around us and that we have to fit into society in a responsible and positive way. We learn that we can not only do as we wish but also have to consider the rights, feelings and desires of others. When it comes to business, unfortunately it seems as if many people still behave like children and only pursue their own needs and wants rather than taking a moment to understand the bigger picture. There are in fact 5 fundamental negotiation strategies that you can use to support the achievement of your negotiation objectives.

1. Competitive negotiation

This is a mode of negotiation that is primarily assertive and focused on your own needs, wants and objectives.

2. Accommodating negotiation

This is a mode of negotiation that is primarily focused on the needs, wants and objectives of your counterpart(s) whilst ignoring your own needs.

3. Compromising negotiation

This is a mode of negotiation where you meet your counterpart halfway. You get some of your needs, wants and objectives met and you do the same for your counterpart.

4. Collaborative negotiation

This is a mode of negotiation where you attempt to satisfy all of the needs, wants and objectives of your counterpart and they do the same for you.

5. Avoiding negotiation

This is a mode of interaction where you do not regard negotiation as the best way to achieve your objectives.

Picking The Right Strategy:

The key factors which will determine which of the above strategies should be in your negotiations is to answer the following 3 questions:

a. How important is an ongoing relationship to you?

If the relationship is important, then you will not be able to be only competitive, you will have to at least compromise with your counterpart. If you do not meet at least some of the needs of your counterparts, then it is unlikely that a meaningful relationship will develop.

b. How many alternatives are available to you?

If you have many alternatives available, you can afford to be more competitive. On the other hand, if you have only one option, then you will be forced to be more accommodating.

c. How much time do you have available?

If you have a lot of time available, then you can afford to be more competitive. The less time you have, the more accommodating you will have to be.

As you can see, it is important to ask yourself these 3 questions before you start negotiating so that you can select the approach most suited to the situation at hand rather than just pursuing a negotiation strategy based on your preference.

It is also important to remember that you should be flexible in your approach. You may want to change your strategy as new information becomes available.

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