Whenever I say “No…” to my young son (which is fairly often), it is quite simply a signal for him to open a negotiation. Whilst I don’t think there are copies of Cialdini’s 6 Weapons of Influence or Fisher and Ury’s Getting to Yes among the jumble of discarded toys under his bed, this 7 year old seems to be able to draw on the principles of negotiation and influence with the skill of a master. Adroitly negotiating through the reasoning behind my position, providing attractive options to soften my resistance, positively demonstrating the flaws in my rationale and presenting how a different outcome (always in his favour) can benefit us both, he rarely fails in progressing his own starting position (or ultimately getting his way). Whether it is with school teachers, friends, grandparents or family members, he almost always walks away with an ‘enhanced’ relationship or a good humoured chuckle.
Like the wardrobe in the spare room or the 3rd drawer down in the kitchen, the actual thought of dealing with it often takes on proportions far greater than it actually deserves. It tends to be a little the same with the concept of a negotiation. It can become a big scary monster, not because it needs to be, but because we are afraid of what it can turn into and how it can make us feel.