I see a lot of articles about negotiating and the majority focus on salary/benefit negotiations when you are interviewing for a new position. But what about our daily negotiations? We are constantly negotiating during our workday and at home. Anyone who has kids knows they think they are master little negotiators, don’t they?
My son is a constant negotiator. When he was young, I would sometimes encourage it to help him build skills. More often, my response to “so Mom, instead, how about…” would be a smile and a simple “how about no – just do it.”
I don’t think we recognize how much negotiating we actually do throughout the day and therefore, we lose our power to influence the results. If you find you are in negotiations with a person or a group of people repeatedly, there is one trick I found that helps sway the results in your favor. We could easily interchange ‘negotiate’ with ‘influence’ because that is what we are doing.
Know their style, tells and triggers.
I’m going to bring Chief into this – just for illustration. I’ll have to remember to not tell him I published today so he won’t read this….
Chief is the boyfriend. He is awesome. One thing about him is he is always in command and control at his job. He is a natural leader and has a significant amount of responsibility. He is a master negotiator. Every day he has to negotiate to influence, engage, and get things done.
Chief sometimes forgets that I know him oh so well. He naturally falls into negotiating patterns. I know his patterns and tells. There are certain words or phrases that he uses and I know what path he is going to follow.
For example, deciding on a place to eat. I really do think when living with someone the most debated, ambiguous question you ask each other repeatedly is “what do you want/where do you want to go – for dinner.”
I’m not a picky eater, I pretty much love food. Yet there are times that something just doesn’t sound appealing. Nine times out of ten, when Chief asks where I want to go for dinner, he already has something in mind. Why, oh why, won’t he just suggest that instead? You know, a simple, “Hey, do you want to go grab a pizza tonight?” would same so much time. But no. So, again, why?
Because he wants buy-in. He wants me to think that either it was my decision or feel good about it that we decided together. Uh huh.
Here is the conversation:
Chief: “What do you feel like for dinner tonight?”
Me: “I’m not really in the mood for anything in particular. What about you, what do you feel like?”
Chief: “Oh, I don’t care. What do you think?” (This is my clue to offer a list of suggestions)
Me: “Well, we could do chicken out on the grill, Mexican, or pizza and salad.”
Chief: “Yeah, we could do those or, I was thinking, maybe Elvis’ Italian place”
(side note, in Memphis there is an old restaurant where Elvis hung out and got his favorite pizza – BBQ Chicken – they were the first place to create that).
-now at this point, I know – Chief wants Elvis Italian. There are three ways I can proceed. If I am agreeable to Italian, I simply say:
“Oh, that sounds good, let’s do that.”
If I want to play a bit, I will offer some back and forth, knowing I’m going to agree to Italian in the end. Hey, don’t judge. I would say something like:
“Yeah, I don’t know, not sure that I’m feeling Italian. And I do love your chicken on the grill…”
Chief: “Aw, thanks. Yeah, chicken doesn’t sound bad. I was just thinking Italian since we haven’t had it for a while.”
“Yeah, but I didn’t think you really had anything in mind. You know, tacos aren’t sounding bad either.”
I just like stringing it out a bit so either he feels like he ‘won’ or just for fun in watching him try to influence me without coming out and telling me he wants Elvis Italian.
Now, my third option is if I really don’t want Elvis’ Italian Place that night. This option is compromising. This is when knowing what his triggers are and how to weave them into the conversation to reach a compromise. One of his triggers is we are conscious of our eating. We try to keep it light through the week, watch the carbs, fats, and sugars. Then we might splurge on something on the weekend. I use this information to help negotiate or influence for a win-win:
Me: “That sounds good, we haven’t had it for a while…you know, I wonder, since it is going to be pretty heavy if we should save that for this weekend.”
Chief: “ Oh, it is heavy isn’t it? But it just sounded good”
Me: “Oh, I agree, it does sound really yummy. How about we do Elvis this weekend and while we are out we can go to Bass Pro to get some fishing stuff for your tournament coming up and tonight we can do ‘light’ Italian at that little bistro where you can get a slice of pizza and I can get that awesome spinach salad. That way, we can save up our splurge for this weekend at Elvis’ Italian place.”
Ding ding ding – we have a winner.
If you are interacting with people on a consistent basis, odds are you are negotiating at some point. Next time you find yourself in that situation rather than going on auto-pilot, really listen to your conversation. Start recognizing their style and tells while remembering their triggers. Once you start weaving them into your negotiations, you are going to find a much more agreeable and influential way to communicate.
The other side of that is to be sure to recognize your own patterns. We all have triggers, tells and styles. Self-awareness is such a powerful thing.
Writing this article has made me hungry! I think I might have to suggest Elvis’ Italian for dinner tonight, even though we have chicken marinating. I wonder how this negotiation will go….
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As the Founder and Principal of Career Polish, Inc., a national career personal branding firm, I am an Executive Brand Strategist, Resume Writer and Career Coach. I work with individual clients, companies, leadership and teams to identify, strengthen and effectively communicate their brand, engagement, commitment and most importantly – their value – by learning and leveraging personal branding as applied to LinkedIn, resumes, networking, communication, relationship management, presence and influence.
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