Negotiation begins at home

In India, our housewives have a habit of haggling with vegetable vendors or any street shop owner. I grew up despising this particular trait since being in a business family, we were taught to respect any business. So most of the times I would think: hey that vendor does much hard work of investing, supplying and bringing things for you: you might as well respect him.

However over the years while heading an automobile company, I have come to realize that haggling is actually a part of negotiation. And negotiation is an essential skill that must begin at home. I believe this for two reasons:
1. If you are not in a regular habit of negotiation, you will find yourself at odds with situation where negotiation is the difference between winning and losing.
2. You must never accept anything status quo. It’s important to question everything.
As a kid, I would ask my Dad for say, a late-night party, and when he would say No, I would accept it without challenge. Of course, it did make me a good daughter but I had eventually leanr to negotiate as I grew up. As a teen, I realized I didn’t need to break rules to get what I wanted. I just needed to be extremely convincing in my arguments.
Having said that, I am remembering how many times my friends have dragged me to parties, movies or fun places just by convincing me. And I had to say Yes simply because they made me believe I would have fun. The prospect of benefit or lure such as fun, advantage, merit is an essential ingredient of negotiation.
One of the major rules of parenting should be to learn to explain a logic to the children while informing them about rules. For instance, the late-night curfew is applicable for girls in India since many cities aren’t safe for a minor girl to be out all by herself. So if a girl child is late, she should be instructed to stay back at the friend’s place instead of riding her bicycle all alone at midnight. That way, parents would teach negotiation skills to kids through demonstration. Logic is an essential part of negotiation.
I also have vivid memories of my siblings convincing me to NOT buy a certain toy or a dress as a kid. Being the youngest one, I had to buy their logics out of respect for their seniority. However, my elder sisters were also pretty protective of me. This means, while negotiating, if we exercise our authority and use protection as a tool, we will be able to trigger action according to our intentions.
We must learn the art of negotiation from the circumstances we are in. Of course I love to read books on negotiation but all that theory is fruitless unless I see some of it working in my day-to-day life at home. So what are the basic take-aways? These:
1. Prospect of benefit is an essential ingredient of negotiation
2. Logic cannot be separated from negotiation
3. When logic doesn’t work, authority and protection must take precedence in negotiation.
Hopefully in the next blog, I shall share some of the results of this practise.