The Negotiation Skills Company -- Newsletter November 1998
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A growing number of car dealerships advertise they offer a 'comfortable, no negotiations environment'. Should one infer from this that negotiation is bad for your health? Should people only be allowed to negotiate in designated areas, preferably outdoors and away from impressionable children?
That view makes no sense. We all negotiate throughout our lives. Infants know that a well-timed whimper can lead to a diaper change; as people age we learn that we don't get very much without asking for it. When we negotiate with our teenage children we are beginning to develop an adult way of relating to each other.
Negotiation is not another word for fighting. Negotiation is a process by which we exchange information in order to find ways to satisfy the interests of ourselves and others. We negotiate for many reasons: to solve problems, to get a good price, to reach agreement. When we have something at stake, negotiation processes are often the best ways to pursue a favorable solution.
So why are people afraid of negotiation? Are we afraid of not being perceived as 'good guys'? A couple of years ago as part of the much-needed process of redecorating our bedroom, my wife and I camped out for several days in our guest room. To our chagrin we discovered the bed in the guest room was awful. Yet for years none of our guests had said a word. I called one of my oldest friends, "Terry, how come you never told us how bad our guest bed is?" His response, "I didn't want to be a bad guy," probably reflects how most of us feel.
Negotiation is a rewarding way of interacting with people to whom we have something to offer -- and from whom we may have something to gain. It may be business, it may be simple courtesy in the neighborhood, it may be the thoughtfulness of letting a relative or friend know how another person responds to a lousy guest bed.
In negotiation, voicing a contrary or critical opinion is not 'being a bad guy'. People often appreciate a reality check from time to time. Just because one is expressing a different viewpoint doesn't mean instant warfare has to result. We need to appreciate differences in order to enjoy the fullness of human life.
When you go to buy a car, why should you be embarassed to let the salesperson know that the price that is being offered sounds inflated? If your office mate's choice in music drives you crazy, are you doing them a favor bottling up your resentment?
Businesses that play to what they perceive as the public's negotiation phobia are telling us that we can't make up our own minds, that we're wimps, that we haven't the capacity to make independent judgements.
We negotiate all the time. Giving a name to this universal human activity does not transmogrify it into a trial. Recognizing what we are doing is an important step towards achieving fulfilment of our rightful interests. Don't be afraid to negotiate. Be prepared and the process will be rewarding.
MARY ELLEN SHEA
In addition to winning the hearts and minds of many of our clients, Senior Trainer Mary Ellen Shea even triumphs over the weather. She recently presented a program in Houston, Texas in the midst of several days of major rain. When Mary Ellen arrived, the designated training venue was flooded -- and no one could tell her whether the program had been cancelled or even whether the materials which had been shipped to our client were submerged in the flooding. She found the location to which our client had been moved, and delivered a program that left the participants asking for more.
ON THE ROAD
By November first, my wife calculated I had spent more than 300 hours in the air in 1998; nearly two weeks without touching ground. TNSC brings our programs to our clients. Thus far we've presented negotiation skills training to people from more than thirty countries and from business sectors as diverse as healthcare and nuclear weapons manufacturing.
An increasing number of our clients are taking advantage of 'Booster Shot' TNSC's follow-up program for alumni of our two-day training. While 'Fighting Fires Without Burning Bridges' changes participants' negotiation paradigm, Booster Shot presents an opportunity to review how interest-based negotiation actually works in real life. We explore the impact of the two-day program after the participants have used its lessons for six months or more. The reviews have been consistently positive; in fact one person actually attended two of his company's Booster Shots in a row.
Every week our website gets more and more visitors from at least twenty-five countries. We update the site every ten days, so there's always something new. You might want to meet Paul Cohen, our newest Senior Trainer. We always appreciate your questions and comments -- and the website is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
QUOTATION FOR THE WEEK:
The bigger the pie, the more there is to share. Creativity in negotiation means looking for more for everyone. (Steven P. Cohen)
Good luck and good negotiating,
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