How to Negotiate for Anything

Have I ever told you about my daughter’s negotiation skills? At nine Taylor decided she wanted to swim like a mermaid.

After locating several YouTube videos of mermaids to prove the possibility, she found a video showing exact instructions to craft a mermaid tail. Then, she convinced us to buy expensive swimsuit fabric, a mono-fin (essential for mermaids), and a sewing machine to create a tail.

Taylor drafted my mom and a neighbor, Rexanne, to help sew. And she told us our deadline: an upcoming swim party.

Taylor, now a teenager, knows in any negotiation there is magic in asking for what you want and being prepared and persuasive in your requests.

Before you negotiate for anything, ask yourself:

1.  What do I want? (Be specific so you can communicate it.)

2.  Why do I want it? (Be able to state your good reasons.)

3.  Do I want to invest my time and effort to get it?

These are the 3 questions I discussed recently on FOX 5 in Las Vegas:

The biggest mistake is thinking there must be a winner and a loser in every negotiation. To improve your results and the durability of any agreement, understand the WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) for all parties involved.

Use these tips for negotiating with people in different situations.

  • Your spouse or significant other.  Opposites attract. Have empathy for someone who thinks differently than you do. Ask how he or she came to the conclusion AND really listen before responding. Stay in the present and address the problem at hand. It is not going to help your case if you discuss behavior that happened months ago. With your spouse especially, crying or raising your voice distracts from what you really want in the negotiation.

  • Your children.  While there are definitely reasons to be in control as a parent, consider what your kids value and negotiate from there. Raising your voice shows kids you are not in control. Instead of yelling for our teens to come to dinner, we started using their form of communication: texting. It worked!

  • Your kids’ teachers. Teachers deal with a lot of parents who think their kids can do no wrong. It’s important to find what is in the best interest of the child without offending the teacher. Include the teacher as a problem solver and be open to feedback and suggestions. Sometimes it really is your child who is creating the problem.

  • Your boss. Whether you are asking for a raise, wanting a different project or wishing for a different schedule-make sure you have a plan. A plan includes understanding your boss’s concerns and knowing what he or she might say. A leader is more interested in a strategy for future results instead of work you already performed. Consider practicing with a friend who reminds you of that boss. And don’t let the initial response throw you. If you’re not successful the first time, there will be another opportunity to ask for what you want.

  • Paying your credit card bill.  Pick up the phone today and ask your credit card companies if they can give you a lower rate.  Don’t ask for a specific amount – just ask, “What’s the best you can do?” Save your junk mail. Those credit card applications you’re sent have rates to compare to your card. And ask to change the payment schedule if you have more money at the middle or end of month.

  • Store purchases. Ask if you can get a discount or if there is a special offer at the time. Some stores keep current coupons behind the counter.  Also, ask if the item you are purchasing is about to go on sale. If so, ask if the store will honor the sale price today.

  • At a hotel, restaurant or movie theater.  Be polite. Express your feelings about what you want or what went wrong. Ask what the manager or representative can do for you.  Give the venue an opportunity to make it right first. These are service businesses. Their solution may be better than any demand you make!

Journey On!

About Linda: A recognized authority on negotiations, workplace issues and strategic communication, Linda Byars Swindling, JD, CSP is an author, media expert, a “recovering” employment attorney, and a professional speaker.