Everything is Negotiable – Including Sex – Learn to Do it Well

It is usually assumed that those who possess the greatest talent, dedication and education are the ones who achieve the rewards in life. Life can disillusion those who hold that belief. The ‘winners’ are usually people who are not only competent, but also are willing to negotiate what they want. Negotiation, however, is not theirs alone. An increased awareness of what negotiation is and how to use it to get what you want will help put you in the ‘winner’ category.

Negotiation is an integral part of our lives. It occurs between neighbors, associates, friends, in-laws, and lovers. You probably have negotiated for such items as an increase in salary, more office space, time off work, transfer, time alone, or the price of your home and car. You negotiate nearly everything you do in life. Therefore, learn to do it well. Learn to be an effective negotiator and enhance the quality of your life and relationships–on and off the job.

In the broadest sense, we all want the same things (albeit in different degrees): prestige, freedom, money, justice, status, love, security, and recognition. Identifying or knowing what one wants is critical. Identifying what the other person wants allows for the beginning of a successful negotiation.

Negotiation can be considered a science in that it is a field of knowledge and endeavor. It focuses on the reconciliation of two or more sets of individual needs to the mutual benefit of the collaborators. Negotiation in the simplest form is the use of information (knowledge) and power (endeavor) to affect behavior within a certain framework.

When we engage in negotiation, two things are being bargained for: the issues and demands which we state openly; and our real needs, which are rarely verbalized. If you establish a reasonable guess about what the other person’s needs are, you can predict, with remarkable certainty, what will transpire in any interaction.

Negotiation focuses on the reconciliation of two or more sets of individual needs to the mutual benefit of the collaborators. Three crucial elements are present in negotiation: information (knowledge), power (endeavor), and time. Misconceptions about the balance of ownership of these elements are, often the reason people fail either to initiate or conclude a negotiation. The misconceptions are manifested as perceptions of an imbalance of the elements. For example:

Information: It is perceived that the other side knows more about you and your needs than you know about them and their needs. The questions which need to be resolved are: What do they need? What am I willing to give to get what I need?

Power: It is perceived that the other side has more power and authority than you have. The questions which need to be resolved are: Do I have the skills to negotiate successfully? (In other words, can I get what I want from others?) Do I deserve to get what I want?

Time: It is perceived that the other side is not under the same kind of organizational pressure, time constraints and restrictive deadline you perceive you are under. Avoid setting up your request with the approach, “I want what I want when I want it.” This instills a desire on your part to push for agreement prematurely, thus alienating the other person.

These misconceptions become obstacles to productive negotiation. You need to fully understand these three elements and analyze the impact they will have on each negotiation prior to beginning the process.
There are three approaches to a negotiation:

METHOD I – I Win, You Lose (Win/Lose)

Advantages to this method are:

I get what I want when I want it

I experience a sense of power and control

I avoid making compromises

I get immediate gratification

Disadvantages to this method are:

Social isolation (alienating others)

A decreased tolerance for frustration

I get what I want at the expense of others

Individuals learn to use abusive behavior to get what they want

There is no guarantee individuals will follow through

METHOD II – I Lose, You Win (Lose/Win)

Advantages of this method are:

You get what you want when you want it

You experience a sense of power and control

You avoid making compromises

You get immediate gratification

Disadvantages of this method are:

Social isolation (alienating others)

A decreased tolerance for frustration

You get what you want at the expense of others

Individuals learn to use abusive behavior to get what they want

There is no guarantee individuals will follow through

METHOD III – I Win, You Win (Win/Win)

Advantages of this method are:

You get what you want

I get what I want

The solution is a collaborative effort

I maintain respect and integrity – You maintain respect and integrity

We both save time

We keep lines of communication open

We each know the needs of the other

Appropriate behavior is demonstrated and reinforced

Disadvantages of this method are:

I seem weak

It takes time to work through the process when someone is not accustomed to win/win negotiating

The individuals may agree to a proposed solution, but not follow through

Despite these disadvantages, Method III provides an avenue for a collaborative conclusion and therefore is the method recommended for all your negotiations.

There are six steps to win/win negotiation:

1. Identifying and Defining What is Wanted
This is the critical phase when the person initiating the negotiation needs to get the other person(s) involved. Get their attention and then secure their willingness to enter into problem solving.

2. Generating Possible Solutions
In this phase, the key is to generate a variety of solutions. Encourage each individual to generate at least one solution.

3. Evaluating the Alternative Solutions
Now it is time to evaluate the various solutions. Generally the solutions are narrowed to two or three that seem best by eliminating those that are not acceptable to either the initiator of the negotiation or the other person(s).

4. Agree on the Best Solution
Once the solutions have been narrowed down to two, the step of finding a final solution will be easier than most people think. When Steps 1 through 3 have been followed and the exchange of ideas and reactions have been open, honest and direct, most people will be willing to accept either solution. Pros and cons can be listed for each solution and the solution with the least cons accepted.

5. Implementing the Decision
After a decision is reached, there is frequently a need to spell out in some detail exactly how the decision will be implemented. All participants need to address themselves to ‘Who will do what, by when? In a business environment, it is also suggested that notes be kept about commitments to insure adherence, particularly if implementation is delayed.

6. Following Up With an Evaluation
Not all initial decisions in the win/win method turn out to be good ones. Consequently, the initiator of the negotiation needs to check back with the others to ask them if they are still happy with the decision.

If you have something difficult to negotiate–an emotional issue or a concrete item that can be stated numerically, such as price, interest rate, or salary–deal with it at the end of a negotiation, after the other person has made a substantial expenditure of energy and time. There is a direct ratio between the extent of investment and one’s willingness to create a win/win negotiation.

People are usually most eager to negotiate when they perceive that you can help them or when they want to avoid something undesirable. In an adversary relationship (seller and buyer, interviewer and interviewee, contractual negotiation, etc.) if you think I might help or hurt you, it is important that your perception remains until I get something, such as a concession on your part that truly benefits the negotiation or our relationship.

In an adversarial relationship, Steps 2 and 3 are done prior to the initiation of the negotiation. It is important to take into consideration the possible needs of the other(s) so as to generate as many acceptable alternatives as possible. In an adversarial relationship, once the negotiation is ended, Step 6 is seldom needed because the conclusion is usually acted on by immediate transaction or contractual commitment.

As in learning any new skill, you need to develop the self-assurance that you are capable of performing the task. Since negotiation is a complex and highly skilled endeavor, it is suggested that you begin by practicing a segment until you feel comfortable. Begin by eliminating your misconceptions and replacing them with the concepts of a win/win negotiation. Then practice the steps of negotiation on a simple issue with someone you respect. The more you practice, the easier it will become. Soon you can begin negotiating more complex issues and then move on to negotiating with adversaries.

Remember, negotiation is an art; therefore, it is achievable through practice and endeavor. Once you learn it, you too will be a winner.

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