Negotiating With Loved Ones

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BKBG Conference Workshop Leader Derek Gaunt from the Black Swan Group, provided great guidance on how to negotiate with those you love. When you negotiate pricing or a business transaction, the consequences of failure are not as high as when you fail to reach an effective solution with a spouse, partner or child. Black Swan notes that when you are connected to someone on a deeper emotional level you naturally hold them to higher standards than you do to individuals involved in business transactions. That’s why Black Swan recommends different approaches for loved ones than team members, suppliers, contractors or other business associates.

The first step is to demonstrate an understanding of what you know. I realize that you are upset; I know I let you down, etc. Once you demonstrate understanding, it’s easier to gain influence.

Another key is to recognize that logic may not work. If your partner has vowed to lose weight, and you catch them eating a piece of chocolate cake, it’s probably not going to end well if you tell them that they are increasing their chance of heart disease or possibility of become a diabetic and less likely to be promoted on the job because of their physical appearance.

Empathy is a highly effective negotiation tool, Derek related at the BKBG Conference. Black Swan advises that using empathy with loved ones requires extra effort. Slow down your reaction time and identify the emotions that your partner, spouse or child are expressing. Let them know that you understand. Allow loved ones to vent and say no. Listen with the goal of understanding the problem/challenge instead of thinking about what you might say next. Be mindful of your tone of voice and use of language. You may need to use your late night DJ voice.

Keep your emotions in check. It’s difficult because human instinct is to focus inward. If you consciously focus on your counterpart, you have less time to focus on your own emotions and gain greater insight into the problem or situation that you want to resolve.

One of the lessons Derek taught at BKBG is that everything is a negotiation. It’s only natural to avoid uncomfortable situations. Every negotiation, especially those with loved ones, requires the ability to connect and demonstrate an understanding. When you use tactical empathy and look through the lens of your loved ones, most negotiations will result in a successful outcome.

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