Winning Negotiations

Most people have no idea how to negotiate. In fact, most people have no idea what negotiation even is.

If someone offers you a job at $50,000/year, and you say “I’ll do it for $60,000,” that’s not negotiating. That’s haggling. There’s a big difference.

Haggling is zero sum. Negotiating is win/win.

When you buy a cup of coffee, both you and the coffee shop owner win. You win because you wanted coffee more than you wanted $4, and the coffee shop owner wins because he wanted $4 more than he wanted the coffee. That’s how the world goes ’round, an endless series of win/win exchanges.

True negotiating is just finding the right bundle of those exchanges. Their initial offer might be $50,000 and you might want $60,000, but there’s something you can do that they want more than the extra $10k and you want less. And they might want you to work one Saturday per month and you value that less than the bump in title they’ll give you for it, and so on and so forth.

You want to watch real negotiations? Find a baseball card convention and watch the trades happen. Those people create trades with dozens of cards each, constantly moving pieces back and forth until they’re both happier with what they’re getting than what they’re giving up. It can be complex, but everyone wins.

That’s how you have to approach negotiations to be successful. There’s not just one single metric, there are a half a dozen or more things that both sides can get. You want to understand and respect what they want, just as you understand and respect that the coffee shop owner wants $4. You want them to get $4, because that’s how they stay in business and provide you with more coffee. In the same way, you want people who negotiate with you to get what they want, because then they’ll come back to the table with you again and again.

And every time you’ll get what you want, too.

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