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Negotiating Wants in Relationship

One of the many skills I learned from my sales days that I have been able to translate into my personal life is an understanding for how to negotiate.

Learning to negotiate in any kind of relationship is a beautiful and powerful thing. Yet, surprisingly very few people know how to do it.

People hear the word negotiate and they imagine a horribly uncomfortable conversation with some cut-throat-sharp-talker with an I’m-gonna-screw-you approach and, yes, some business people call that negotiating, but I assure you, it is not negotiating.

Success in sales does not mean winning every last battle. The true testament of a great sales person is the strength of the relationships they have with their customers. They listen deeply to what their customers have to say and they do their best to keep their word, so that trust is built between them. They spend some time thinking about their customers business and really, truly understand that their customer’s success also means their success. Their customer matters to them and the customer knows it.

Sounds logical, right?

Try this, go back and re-read the paragraph above and replace the word customer with the word boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/friend/boss/whatever and ask yourself if your actions with these individuals support that same logic. Learning to negotiate with your partner/friend/boss/whatever will help support this ideology and strengthen your relationship.

In negotiation, the goal is that both parties get as close to their ideal vision as possible. It is the commitment of each party involved to see that this is accomplished. Both parties spell out their most ideal, in-a-perfect-world scenario. Each person clearly sketches out the image so the other person can get a clear vision and understand what it is they are wanting. Both parties should spend some time getting to know the nuances of the other person’s vision and work to understand why they want it.

If we are in relationship, a lot of times, our visions bump into each other—they don’t line up and then one person is left feeling like they need to give up what they want in order to be with the other person. This is how resentments are formed. And, sometimes, it might be true that one person gives up more, but a lot of times it’s because there hasn’t been a proper negotiation process set in place.

Another major misconception of negotiation is that in order to reach an agreement one of us has to sacrifice, so we start offering up chunks of what we want. This is false. This is not a time to be a martyr.

After you have spent some time getting to know each other’s vision, your goal then is to try and help the other person manifest that vision.

Be supportive. When both are supportive of the other person attaining their goal then it is not uncommon that both end up getting what they want. Although it might look a little different than you first thought it would. The game becomes more fun because together you are brainstorming and finding creative ways to help each other.

For example, I can’t stand football. I hate football season because all the men turn into zombie robots and never want to do anything but watch TV.

I love my Sundays. They are the only day of the week my boyfriend and I share off. So, during football season, it can become this battle where one of us has to miss something we like or sit through something we don’t in order to spend the day together. This usually leaves one of us feeling like we lost and that doesn’t make either of us very happy.

So, instead, what we do is negotiate.

I share my vision: It’s a beautiful day outside; I want to go do something fun, have lunch, socialize with others and maybe end the day at sunset with a margarita!

He shares his: His favorite teams are playing, his fantasy football team is doing well and he wants to watch the games.

After sharing each other’s vision and then having a playful conversation about what we both want we begin the negotiation.

I say, “It’s not that I mind watching a game or parts of the game, I just don’t want to be tied to the TV all day.”

He says, “These are the main games I want to see. There seem to be some gaps in time between them.

I say, “There is a street festival going on across town that would be fun. There are a couple sports bars along the way.”

So we go back and forth offering each other options until we land on one that sounds really fun to both of us. So, we hop on his tandem bike and ride across town to the street festival timing our stops at different sports bars along the way so he could see the games he wanted to see. It took us almost the whole day to get to the festival, but it was a really fun adventure. He got to see the games he wanted while surrounded by other folks who he could cheer his teams with on with (even I hooted a few of them on!) and I got to be outside on an adventure. Win-win. Negotiation successful. GO TEAM!

Of course this is a light and breezy one, but this works for the harder gridlocks too. Just use the steps below and see how it works for you.

Let’s review:

Step #1: State your ideal vision—be specific.

Step #2: Listen to the other person’s vision—be inquisitive.

Step #3: Try and help the other person manifest their vision—get creative.

Step #4: Don’t stop until you are both excited about the results—brainstorm.

No one is happy if one is not happy.

I will leave you with a beautiful story I saw on Facebook the other day to help get you in the spirit.

“An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told the kids that who ever got there first won the sweet fruits. When he told them to run they all took each others hands and ran together, then sat together enjoying their treats. When he asked them why they had run like that as one could have had all the fruits for himself they said: ‘’UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?’’

‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: ‘I am because we are’”

Now, try it and let me know what happens. UBUNTU!

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