Negotiating Our Dreams: Part 3 of 4

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It's Week 3 of my class She Negotiates.

This course definitely has the highest educational ROI (return on investment) in years.  Following is more of what I've learned, including a success story.

Value-claiming vs. Value-expanding negotiation — According to one of our instructors Vickie Pynchon, there are two types of negotiation:

  1. “Value claiming” – negotiation in which you ask for more of the “fixed pie” of apparently limited resources. This is also called “distributive” bargaining because the parties to this type of negotiation are attempting to distribute the (limited) resources between them.
  2. Interest-based “value expanding” negotiation – in which resources are not limited, and can actually be expanded such that both parties work productively toward a mutually agreeable resolution.

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Most women are comfortable with and good at finding a win-win.  But a win-win resolution isn't always a possibility.  To put this in the extreme, when negotiating with the professional or personal equivalent of terrorists, there isn't a win-win.  You need to win, the other needs to lose.

But even under normal circumstances, we can't always broker a win-win. Not because there's a right or wrong, but because we have to set priorities. It needs to be a no-gotiation, until we can say yes.  Learning to claim a place for our dream, whether time, space, or money is required, may lead to a temporary win-lose dynamic.  To give you an idea of how uncomfortable this may feel, during a practice session, I was tapped to role play ‘winner-takes-all' in negotiating the purchase of a sofa.  Upon the assignment,  I immediately felt myself shrink, a pit forming in my stomach at the thought of winning at someone else's expense, because that's not what nice girls do.

Value-expanding negotiation:  the importance of asking questions — Whether negotiating with our son or daughter about doing their homework in two hours rather than right now or asking for a raise, according to Ms. Pynchon, “our success as a negotiator depends on learning to get over there by asking open-ended questions (who, what, when, where, why) that reveal your bargaining partner's fears, needs, desires, preferences and priorities.” 

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I was surprised that I couldn't readily do this, especially because I've been told by many-a-person that I am a great question-asker.  What I figured out, by way of an observation made by our instructor Lisa Gates, that in a mission-critical situation (e.g. loved ones) I default to mind-reading.  When we try to read minds, any flawed assumptions we might have get reinforced, and potentially erode our relationships.

I have since resolved to practice asking diagnostic questions.  I even did it over lunch with my son last weekend.  It was recommended that we never negotiate until we've broken bread with our bargaining partner:  breaking bread together releases oxytocin, builds trust, makes it more difficult for people to be unaccommodating.  I frequently quip, “all the world's problems can be resolved over lunch”.  It seems this just might be true.

A Success Story:  Turning Lemons into Lemonade — Speaking of ROI, last week one of our computers broke.  It wasn't the first time. As the computer is still under warranty, my husband took it to the dealer.  As a consequence of my sharing with him what I've learned in this negotiation course, my husband asked the repair staff to look up how many times the computer had been in for repairs (information gathering).  The staffer answered five, including replacement of the hard drive and logic board.

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My husband responded with “You know, I'm never going to let the warranty expire on this computer; it's been kind of a lemon.  Wouldn't it be cheaper if you just replaced it with a new one?”  (persuasive argument with the ask) A brief discussion with the manager ensued (someone who had authority) and my husband walked out of the store with a new $1,600 computer.

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What are your thoughts?

Have you experienced the temporary win-lose dynamic — was it uncomfortable?

When did you last ask open-ended questions? What happened?

Who have you gone to lunch with recently?

Do you have a negotiating success story?

What would you like to know about what I'm learning that I haven't mentioned? 

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