Every time I turn on the radio or the television to catch up on the news, I hear the terms “negotiation,” “horse trading,” “give and take” and many others in relation to the government shutdown. For many years I have taught negotiation skills to finance professionals.  Negotiating is a necessary evil – most of us don’t like to negotiate, or believe that we are not good at it, but negotiating is a vital process in business and in life for getting what we want.

Negotiating is a basic means for getting what you want from others. It is a back and forth communication designed to reach an agreement when you and the other party have both shared and opposed interests.

Some people do not like to negotiate because they think they need to compromise or give in. Negotiating is not compromising!

Negotiating is a process by which parties, each with their own goals and perspectives, coordinate areas of interest through discussion, concession, horse trading, and consensus in order to reach agreement or accord.

Ideally, a proper negotiation will produce an agreement that will not harm the relationships of the parties involved.

Never waste time over nonnegotiable issues.

 An issue is the substance that separates you and the other party. It could be as simple as the price and as complex as a philosophy. 99% of negotiations boil down to a difference of opinion or philosophy. Many times, because money is involved, the unskilled negotiator believes that the main issue is price.

You spend a significant portion of your day negotiating. Everyone negotiates for what they want, even though we may not think of it as a negotiation.

Negotiating is a very normal human activity. From the dawn of man we have been trading our limited resources and skills with one another. The ability to negotiate is in your biological makeup. This fact alone should give you confidence in your ability to ask for what you want when you want it.

Negotiating is ultimately between people—not companies, nations, or groups (that is to say, management and the union). So generally,

  • People want to win.
  • People want to communicate.
  • People want to understand other people’s points of view.

When all is said and done, negotiating is simply a communication process to ask someone for something they have in exchange for something you have to offer.