Did you ever notice that children always get their way? We can learn how to negotiate from a child. Think about it for a minute. They never hesitate to ask. Sometimes when a child asks for something, you might think that they are being cheeky, ungrateful or stepping outside of the boundaries. What kids are really doing is recognizing the options that are presented to them. They have that exceptional emotional intelligence to recognize that the offer that is on the table isn’t the one that perfectly meet their needs.
Award-winning negotiator, Donna Hughes, founder of Launch Negotiation, helps us understand more about how to negotiate like a child in part two of our four part series on negotiation.
The Basics of How to Negotiate Like a Child
“Kids do not see the boundaries like a lot of us do when it comes to getting what they want. They don’t see it as binary for a lot of situations. They bring in a whole new aspect of negotiation. Often, as adults, we don’t see the relationship between these different variables.” Hughes said.
When negotiating with kids, you might be negotiating for a later bed time and then you might settle on an extra episode of their favourite show while still going to bed at their usual time. It brings different elements in, and they ultimately think about what is important to them. What makes me happy? Even though we might not see the relationship between an extra cookie, a later bedtime or an extra episode of their favourite show, that’s how they look at the options that they have. Then they think about what is important to them. It’s really that simple.
As adults, this is something that we can easily do. When we go for job interviews, we typically just focus on the salary that we are negotiating. When you take a step back and think about what is really important to you, it might be great work/life balance. It might even just be having supervisor or director in your job title. On paper, this might not make sense to the other person. If it is something that’s important to you, then it’s bringing balance to the conversation.
Have An Open Mind
One thing that Hughes really admires about children is that they have such an open mind when it comes to the negotiation. They are really thinking about what is important to them and we lose touch with that as adults. We always think about what should be important as opposed to what actually is. For example, a job title might not seem important, but maybe that’s something that is really closely attached to your pride. It will make you feel more engaged in the job if you have a title that acknowledges and recognizes your leadership duties or will get you to that next stepping stone in three-five years. Remember that when you negotiate, it should be about what is important to you.
From a young age, you see kids negotiating. Often, as parents, there is a focus on deterring that sort of behaviour. It’s seen as being greedy or not accepting the options. If you can, look at their behaviour through a different lens and recognize that they are seeing the options and trying to come up with a fair (at least in their mind), solution. Of course, there is a bit of pushing the boundaries, but it’s a great skill and they are recognizing that they don’t have to take the first offer. If you could carry that through to when you become an adult, think about how many opportunities you will have to stand up for yourself! You won’t just take that offer that you are given, you will think if it is actually aligned with what you wanted. Ask yourself does that offer line up with your goals, passions and beliefs? If the answer is no, that is when you have to negotiate.
Hughes said that she uses the word socialize a lot because there are so many different influences behind it, but kids are such great leader, they are such great decision makers because they are so innocent and authentic in terms of what they want and how they ask for it. We convolute that as adults and that is why we should learn how to negotiate like a child.
Learn what negotiation is in part one of our four part series “Negotiation and Why You are a Negotiator Even if Don’t Think You Are”. Part three will focus on how our new world has changed negotiation. Check back for that next week on DIVINE.