Suggested Reading

  • "Getting Past No" by William Ury
  • "Getting To Yes" by Roger Fisher and William Ury

In the past few years I've come to appreciate that the ability to negotiate is extremely useful. Not just in the situations that we normally associate negotiation with – business and hostage crises – but in everyday living. Many common interactions between two people are actually negotiations, but we don't see it like that. And because we don't see that negotiation is involved, we tend to fall unwittingly into arguments that only increase the suffering of all involved.

Think about the things that happen in your daily life. Maybe at work you want to do something one way but your boss wants to do it another. Most of us will acquiesce to the boss's wishes, but if we knew how to negotiate, we might be able to execute the idea in such a way that both our plan and the boss's plan will be carried out. Or perhaps at home you want to watch one program on television but your child wants to watch another. The typical response might be to just override the child's choice and watch what you want; after all, who paid for the television? But a quick review of the options might lead you to conclude that you can both see the program that you want.

To me, the basic reason to negotiate in everyday life is that it takes less energy overall; there's less scheming, less arguing, and more trusting. It may take more time to get something done today, but in the long run it will lead to easier relations with the people you deal with every day. Negotiation shows consideration for those around you. When they see that you consider them, they may learn from your example and consider you the next time, too. There's less tension between the two of you, and life is generally more pleasant.