You started negotiating before you could even speak. As soon as your little baby brain figured out that crying lead to food or snuggles you were well on your way to your first deal. Negotiating is part of the human experience. We all do it. And we all like to get what we want. So it only follows that a course on negotiating is going to teach us how to win, and win better. Or, will it?

Well, that depends, on what you call winning, or winning better. Have you ever left a negotiation thinking you could have gotten a better deal? Welcome to the club. You’ve got a lot of company. Like when you find out your neighbour is selling her gorgeous car. You ask her, “How much do you want for your car?” She replies, “If you’re serious, make me an offer.” You think for a moment and say, “$15,000.” She immediately answers back, “It’s a deal!” If you’re like most people you think, “Drats (OK, you may use a different expletive), I could have gotten the car for even less!” What went wrong? A Negotiations course will help with that. But that’s not all, as they say in the infomercials.

What about all the opportunities for a better deal that you didn’t even know slipped by you? What you don’t know can’t hurt you? Right? Well, that’s one way to look at it. And certainly better than letting your thoughts pester you, “Is there something I missed? Did that really go smoothly, or could it have gone better? Is there something I didn’t know about that could have improved the deal?” And on and on, that nagging feeling. That’s a great way to drive yourself nuts. But wait, there’s a better way! More infomercial jargon. Geesh. No, but really.

Here’s a scenario. Two new friends are sitting in the donut shop for the first time, negotiating over who is going to get the last chocolate éclair. Fluffy pastry, stuffed with rich cream, topped with chocolate icing. It’s just sitting there. Beckoning them both. There is nothing else that either of them would like. They both LOVE chocolate eclairs. And there sits the LAST one for the WHOLE day. What are they going to do? What would you do?

Would you try to convince your friend to buy something else, even though you know she really wants the chocolate éclair? Trick her into something else? Offer to buy her something else, so you can have the éclair? Suggest that you have the last one this time, and she next time? Suggest you split the éclair? Hmmm. None of that seems very attractive to your friend, likely. And little do you know there is a solution that has you both getting what you really want. How?

What if you get talking about why you love éclairs? You ask, “What is it about an éclair that makes them so delicious to you?” Your new friend responds, “Oh, I love the rich chocolate icing on the fluffy pastry, with just a hint of the cream stuffing. And you?” You share, “It’s the rich gooey cream stuffing I love, with the soaked pastry beneath.” Can you see a solution emerging? Yes! You can each have the entire part of the éclair that you each enjoy. A win-win.

There is a lot involved in negotiating well. And, it’s fun – and productive – to learn some of what really goes on behind a truly successful negotiation. Simple or silly negotiations like those above, and other more serious and complex ones encountered in life and work. That’s what you learn in a Negotiations course.

Happy negotiating!

Dana Collette

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