How to Get What You Want More Often (Seriously)

There’s a concept I learned about several years ago that has benefited me tremendously. It’s a radically different way of thinking about negotiation. Now I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word negotiation, I immediately picture something like haggling over the price of a car or negotiating for a salary or for a raise. Obviously, those are examples of negotiations, but they’re rare, right?  Things you experience only every few years.

But if you think about it, we actually negotiate every single day.

The Daily Nature of Negotiation

In the last 24 to 48 hours, have you had a conversation about what to eat or where to go for dinner?  What movie the family should watch? Where to go for vacation or just what to do this weekend?  All negotiations.

So if we can find a way to improve our negotiation process, then we’re literally we’re talking about an instant upgrade to our everyday communication.

So what’s at the heart of this ‘radically different way of thinking about negotiation’?

It all starts with a fable about two sisters arguing over an orange…

The Fable of the Orange

Each sister wants the whole orange, and since neither one has the right to it over the other, the most equitable outcome is obviously to slice the orange in half.

But wait…

Before we go down that road, let’s ask ourselves this question:

“WHY does each sister want the orange?”

If we were to ask that question, we would learn that one sister just wants the rind to make candy. The other sister only wants the insides for a snack.

So instead of cutting it in half – each sister getting half of what they want – had they instead looked at their underlying interests, each one could have literally walked away with 100% percent of what they wanted.

The Critical Issue: Position vs. Interest

And that’s the lesson for us. So often and so easily, we get pulled into negotiating over position, the surface issue of what we want.  When that happens, when our ego get tangled up in the thing, we dig in our heels and it becomes a battle of the wills; who will be the toughest and who can last the longest?

But the game changes entirely when we go beyond the surface nature of position to ask ourselves the more pressing issue of interest

“WHY do I want this?”

When we do that, these Venn diagrams of what each party wants begin to emerge, allowing us to see where possible points of agreement may lie.

Hard on Problems, Easy on People

With this different way of approaching negotiation, you’ll find get more of what you want more often and with way less wear-and-tear on you AND the person you’re negotiating with.  Why?  Because it’s a whole different way of looking at the process – being tough on the problem (the issue of finding agreement) and easy on the people.

Getting to Yes

I’m more than happy to let you know that none of this wisdom comes from me, but rather a classic book on negotiation called Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. I’ll include an affiliate link below to where you can buy it. I’ve read this book. I’ve re-read this book. I’ve taught this book in a corporate setting. I hope you’ll check it out or, at the very least, give the video above a quick look.

Most of all, I hope you’ll look for opportunities to put this principal into action. It’s powerful and I think you will find it indispensable.

– Matthew Porter

Matthew Porter writes about decoding success, creative leadership, marketing, and productivity.

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