To Negotiate Life Successfully is All about Negotiation

Win Win

Win Win

I’ll admit there have been several times over the course of our 31 years of marriage that I have had to walk away as my husband has negotiated for carpet, appliances, furniture and cars.  I’ve gotten much better at negotiating as I’ve learned from the “master,” but he is still our go-to guy when it comes to making deals.  Luckily, all of our kids have observed him in action and taken away at least some of this mastery.

Every day in life we are presented with opportunities for negotiation, and doing it successfully and where everyone walks away satisfied is an art worth learning at a very early age.  Kids are natural negotiators (“I promise to do my homework right after dinner, if you let me go to Andy’s after school,” “I’ll get right up in the morning, if you let me watch one more TV show tonight,” “I know I already take dance and piano and play soccer, but I want to try tennis too!”).  If you view their little “nags” as opportunities to teach them how to negotiate, first with you and siblings and then branching out to friends, teachers, coaches, vendors, etc. , you are doing them a tremendous favor.

Here are a couple of ground rules to go over with your child deal-makers:

  • First and foremost, always aim for your negotiations to result in a win-win, i.e. you walk away happy and so does the guy you’re negotiating with.  This means you have to think out what you really want and what you are willing to give up to make the deal.  It’s all about compromising – a trait you most definitely want to encourage in your kids and one that would make the world a better place.  “I need a raise in my allowance to umpty-ump so I can… I will use the money to…and you will be proud of me because…”  FamilyMint provides a fun, structured way for kids to think through how to parcel their allowance toward goals they set and manage, an excellent way to build confidence and budgeting skills.
  • No put downs!  Remain calm and always respect the opinion and ideas of the person on the other side by truly listening to their views.  No saying: “You’re so stupid!” and lots of: “I understand where you’re coming from. Here’s what I think we can agree on…”

And a few hints for you parents out there:

  • Don’t jump in even when you’re bursting at the seams to add your two cents.  Letting your kids work out their own deals and differences is GREAT experience!
  • Lead by example. Let your kids witness your own constructive deal making – at garage sales, in the carpet store and the auto showroom, and chat with them about it afterward. Ask them what you could have done better, what they would have done in the same situation, etc.
  • Praise their negotiating successes when it is done with grace and respect, positively point out how less successful outcomes might have been better and NEVER be judgmental!  They learn from everything they do.

You never know when you have a little Henry Kissinger or Madeline Albright in the making, so help your kids develop their inner negotiator and make their way through life in the best possible way.