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Your Most Important Negotiations... Or Not?

Jared Bamford

We receive a lot of feedback from our alumni about how much the Advancing Negotiations Course has benefited them not only in their professional life, but in their personal life, as well. 


Some people will advise you never to negotiate with your family, but we believe there is a time and place for it, given the collaborative approach that Scotwork teaches. It is true, though, that in any loving relationship, there will be an abundance of “unconditional concessions” flowing in both directions... 


Conflict and its contributors are an inevitable part of the human condition: The art of collaborative negotiation can certainly change the course of otherwise potentially nasty relational outcomes, though there are also inherent  dangers to bringing your negotiation-at-the-table- approach home. 


When it comes to negotiating with those closest to you, here are some Scotwork-endorsed principles to bear in mind: 


Be aware if persuasion isn’t working 

Persuasion is a great way to resolve conflict- even with loved ones… when it works. And that’s the catch, people often over estimate their persuasive capabilities. The problem is that if persuasion isn’t working, it can come across as self-serving and potentially even be denying the necessary acknowledgement of your loved one’s equally legitimate and worthy point-of-view (well, at least in their eyes).Arguments can become even more heated as a result. By all means give it a bash, but be very self and other-aware when it’s not working. 


Step back and prepare 

By considering what is of most importance to you and giving equal consideration to what your significant other values highly before entering into any discussion, you will know what you want, be able to test your assumptions about what he or she wants, and have the foundation to establish what we call a “bargaining arena”. Many people aren’t really sure what they actually want to achieve in a negotiation. Prioritise. Know what you would “die in the ditch” for and where your areas of flexibility are. Then you will be equipped to be specific and brave about asking for what you want. At the same time, be willing to give in order to get. Consider what your loved ones desired outcome would be and where he or she may be flexible, too.  By demonstrating that you have given thought to what you believe is of high importance to them will also help enormously in building a sense of trust around the contentious issue before you even begin to negotiate. 


When  to impose your will - and when to give in 

In some cases like, “Dad, I know I’m only 17 but I really want to go to that music festival in the Hunter with my new 26 year old boyfriend.”, you may just need to impose your will-and take the consequences! However, there are times when, for the sake of the relationship’s longevity, or to demonstrate your willingness to put yourself aside for someone who is very important to you, perhaps choose to concede with grace, rather than feel you have to live up to the title of “World’s Best Negotiator”. (Do note, though, that if you are making unconditional concessions, it needs to be done with eyes wide open and an awareness of the potential risks and consequences… such as the precedent set and who will rollover” the next time there is a conflict.)There is a time and a place, especially in family relationships, when the choice not to negotiate is the better one, when you deliberately leave your well-honed negotiation table skills at the office and give yourself a break, too, from trying to always practice the “If you, then I” tactic. On-purpose sacrificial giving may ultimately strengthen what is actually of far greater value to you than any “must”, “intend” or “wish list”. 


So at this special time of the year, we wish you happy negotiating-or not-whatever is more likely to build those all-important relationships! 





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