Playground Lessons Not to Follow in Business Negotiations

Most if not all people carry the important life lessons taught to them on the playground throughout their adult life. These early teachings often go on to lay the foundations of a person’s values such as respect and courtesy. 

Playground Lessons Not to Follow in Business Negotiations

However, playground lessons can become major stumbling blocks to scoring success when negotiating business transactions. So, when it comes to closing business deals, consider replacing age-old playground lessons with more effective tried and tested skills and stress the importance of playground lessons. Here are some of the playground lessons to avoid when negotiating. 

Simply ask for what you want

To avoid the flood of tears and tantrums, kids are taught to use their words and simply ask for what they want, politely, of course. In a playground setting, asking helps to avoid conflict. For instance, if Jill is playing with a toy, Suzie should ask for a turn if she wants to play too. 

On the negotiating table, however, declaring your intentions right off the bat may cost you. Instead of laying out your goals, it’s important to gain a firm footing by reading into what the other side wants first. 

According to the Negotiations Experts, success at the negotiating table comes through the exchange. So, by gradually unpeeling the layers, you can work towards a common ground without giving too much away.

Treat others the way you want to be treated and they’ll reciprocate

Kids are taught to be nice to others if they want the favor returned. Based on this golden rule, you could assume that your amiable behavior will be reciprocated at the negotiating table. However, business relationships are often more complicated. Values and standards differ and so will negotiating styles. 

A person coming to the negotiation is unique and may have different expectations from the outcome than you. To score more points, start by thinking about what the other person wants rather than what you want. Take time to dig deeper to uncover how the other person anticipates you to act and what they want to gain from the negotiations. 

Once you lay bare the other side’s top priorities, you can find the best way to offer them what they want while still meeting most, if not all, your needs. For instance, by looking for what they assign the highest value to which you, in turn, can offer. In return, you can ask to get what you value the most. 

Sharing is caring and letting others go first

Kids are often taught to be accommodating. Generously offering others to have the first go, is a brilliant way to make and keep friends on the playground. However, if you are overly accommodating in negotiations, it can spell your downfall. 

If you wait for the other side to set the pace and decide what comes next, you might never get a turn. So, it’s important to have clear-cut goals going into a negotiation. Keep your eye on the prize and understand that it’s not about capitulating but finding common ground and exchanging value. 

It’s also critical to keep your emotions on ice when it’s called for, and deeply consider all situations. Avoid being pushed into compromising or making quick decisions that can sabotage your own goals. 

That said, skilled negotiators allow flexibility because an accommodative approach can come in handy in some situations. For instance, if you’re on the wrong side of a transaction and you’re trying to smooth things over. 

Say your company is contracted to supply 500 units of a product within 2 months. Due to an unfortunate turn of events and some short-sighted suppliers, you can only deliver in 2 months. Before the customer can come banging on your door, you quickly arrange a meeting in which you apologize and offer a discount.

Become an expert in negotiations

Lessons taught on the playground have their application, but they can stifle your negotiation outcomes more often than not. So, consider unlearning these methods and instead start building a new skill set from scratch. Incorporate some tried and tested skills, such as:

  • Staying focused on your goals and keeping your eye on the bigger picture.
  • Flexibility and responsiveness to the other negotiators’ styles.
  • Listen and learn what the other side’s top goals are. Find a way to meet them, while still satisfying your own needs.
  • Instead of asking for what you want straight away, consider how you can trade information for a win-win.