Learning to negotiate in everyday life.

Why negotiating is a mighty skill to master for your everyday life


What do we mean by negotiation? While there’s no standard definition, here are some words I associate with it. Persuading, explaining, communicating, listening, understanding and compromising. All of these skills are essential for successful negotiation in the business world. But they’re highly relevant for your everyday life too.

Recognising everyday negotiation

Maybe we don’t all realise it, but we negotiate almost every day. Not everyone recognises it because we tend to perceive negotiation as a situation where one person wins and someone else loses. I can’t emphasise enough that successful negotiation is actually about two parties resolving conflict with patience. Individuals listen to each other and learn to be reasonable about their expectations.

Negotiation doesn’t have to be a big, formal discussion.

Negotiation doesn’t have to be a big, formal discussion. Perhaps you negotiated a new process flow at work, or you agreed how to split the household chores. In either case, you probably attempt to explain your point of view concisely and with authority. Hopefully you listen to the other person’s perspective. In some cases you might solve the problem on the spot, other times you need to come back with revised offers.

This approach is true whether it’s about who loads the dishwasher or who takes responsibility for the next big project at work. Sometimes you have a while to think about your strategy, other times you’re thrown in at the deep end with little warning.

The importance of negotiation in your everyday life

Outside of business, negotiation is an essential part of maintaining peace in daily life. You’re bound to disagree with other people’s perspectives, but refusing to compromise doesn’t resolve the issue. You need to learn to meet in the middle, whether it’s with strangers, friends or family.

Let’s look at some examples of where negotiation is present in everyday life.

Example 1: Buying goods or services

Some items have a fixed price, but certainly not all. Think about buying a second-hand car or a new house. Both the seller and the buyer need a deal they feel comfortable with. However, their ideas of a good deal may vary significantly. Whichever side of the negotiation you’re on, you’ll likely start with one price and work with the other party to meet in the middle. The sale can’t continue without you reaching a mutually agreeable price, so negotiation is essential.

Negotiation is a part of everyday life. Negotiation is a huge part of our daily lives, often without us even realising it.

Example 2: Dividing household tasks

It’s rarely fair that one person in the home does all the chores. Typically they are split between the adults according to time available and other responsibilities. Negotiation is necessary so that both parties are happy with their physical environment and their role in maintaining it.

Negotiation is necessary so that both parties are happy with their physical environment.

Each party explains what they think they should be responsible for. If anyone disagrees with another, they could agree to swap a couple of tasks or look at how to divide chores in a different way. Everyone should feel like they have time to complete their jobs and still enjoy living in the house.

Example 3: Planning a holiday with friends or family

When you choose to go away with other people, you’ve got to make sure you all enjoy the trip. If you can’t get round to everything on your top sights to see list, you have to negotiate. In my experience, this typically involves everyone picking their absolute must-see items. These experiences get scheduled in first, then we work through the remaining ideas.

It’s often similar with accommodation. I have friends who like to camp, and friends who prefer warm and comfortable lodges. Usually, we end up with something in middle. Everyone compromises to some extent but not so much they feel overruled.

At ICML, we think negotiation is an essential skill, and one worth investing in. Our influencing and negotiation skills course, available in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, covers all the basics and much more.

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