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4 Lessons on the Art of Negotiation (I learned from my 2 year old daughter)

art of negotiationIf you’re a parent, then you’re probably aware that kids are born with the innate ability to negotiate and spend years perfecting this skill from the moment they speak their first words. As the father to a toddler, I engage in some form of negotiating on a daily basis. From how many vegetables are eaten at dinner, to how long to watch TV before bedtime, it’s clear that our little ones’ are well versed in the art of negotiation – and maybe we, as adults, could learn a thing or two.

Whether or not we recognize it, negotiations play a large part in nearly every aspect of our lives. Think back to your first job. Did you negotiate your starting salary? What about your first home or vehicle purchase? If you answered no, you might have missed out on huge cost-savings opportunities and maybe even put your long-term earning potential at risk.

And these are just a few examples where the art of negotiation could come in handy.

It seems that somewhere between the reckless abandon of childhood and the seemingly-endless responsibilities of adulthood, many of us lost the edge in our ability to negotiate. But there’s no need to worry. While successful negotiation is an art form that still comes naturally to some, most of us need a refresher from time to time.

With inspiration from my daughter, here are a few tips to help you brush up on your negotiation skills.

1) Know your audience

This is arguably the most important principle in the art of negotiation. For kids, their audience is generally parents, and since they’ve known you from birth, they tend to have a good handle on what’s important to you.

For adults, it’s a little more challenging.

While it doesn’t matter if you’re negotiating a salary increase or more favorable terms on a vehicle purchase, you must do your homework.

It’s in your best interest to find out as much as you can about the person sitting across from you and determine (as best as possible) what makes them ‘tick’. Knowing this puts you in a better position of leverage because you are able to tailor your argument toward the things that are most valuable to them. Remember, most deals are only possible because both people feel they’re getting something out of it.

art of negotiation2) Determine your desired outcome

Kids are masters at knowing exactly what they are trying to accomplish before entering into negotiations. And in this case, we should follow their lead. This is a key piece in the art of negotiation.

Knowing your bottom line before even beginning a negotiation will prevent you from agreeing to terms that may prove to be unacceptable down the line.

In line with the previous point, do your research!

For example, if you are presented with a job opportunity and the discussion of salary is the next logical step, research the salary range for someone with your skills, experience, and education before your next meeting. Also, decide in advance the lowest salary/benefits package you are willing to accept.

Armed with this information, you stand a better chance of articulating the value that you provide and receiving your desired amount.

3) Be reasonable

Over the weeks leading up to Christmas, my wife and I have heard a countless number of far-fetched gift requests that we haven’t the ability, nor intention of fulfilling. After our trip to the zoo a few weeks ago, we were met with the request of an elephant for Christmas. Nope, not a stuffed elephant, the full-sized version.

These outlandish requests are kinda cute when they’re kids, but not so much as an adult.

Try to stay reasonable with your negotiation tactics. Despite how much of a deal you feel entitled to, don’t throw out numbers that are unreasonably low or astronomically high, hoping that the other person will negotiate closer to the figure that you really want.

Nothing can bring a negotiation to a screeching halt like an irrational request. If the person you’re negotiating with feels like they’re being cheated, it can do irreparable damage. Following the art of negotiation, both parties should leave feeling satisfied with the outcome, without having one side feel like they’ve “pulled one over” on the other.

art of negotiation4) Stop talking and listen

At times in negotiations with my daughter, she’s so busy telling me what she wants and why, that she often doesn’t even realize that I’ve already agreed to her request. And I don’t think this is just a problem with kids. As adults, most of the time we are so busy ensuring that other people hear what we have to say that we forget to listen. In the art of negotiation, listening (or perhaps simply saying nothing) can do more than rambling on and on.

As adults, most of the time we are so busy ensuring that other people hear what we have to say that we forget to listen. But oftentimes, the best negotiators are the ones that ask probing questions and then sit back and listen. The other negotiator will tell you everything you need to know (see: know your audience), all you have to do is stop talking and listen. Practice following the 80/20 Rule and, and listen 80 percent of the time while talking 20 percent.

The ability to successfully negotiate in both personal and professional environments is a skill that you must master. If you keep these four strategies in mind each time you step into negotiations, you will be well on your way to earning a better income, cutting costs, and having an overall more satisfying life.

Are you actively getting better at the art of negotiation?

This post was written by Kelby from



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

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