Many have said that you are either born to be a negotiator or you are not. My experience has proven that I am right to disagree with that mentality. In fact, the truth is that negotiation is a learned skill. You start learning at a very young age – even before you can speak. You start by crying. You cry, your mother picks you up, or rocks you, or sticks a boob in your mouth. So, you learn that by crying, you get a result, and if it is not the exact result that you like, then you cry some more – or poop – and then you get some real attention. Once you learn to speak, you start to put more tools in your toolbox. You ask for things. You beg for things. You demand things. You throw tantrums. You learn to be sweet. You learn to be quiet. You learn to do your chores. You learn to ask for things when “Dad is in a good mood.” You learn boundaries. You learn when not to ask. So as you grow older, you have already become somewhat of a master negotiator in your own right.
Then, your self-image sets in. Sometimes you don’t get what you want or you have to compromise on something. Often, this can change your self-esteem. You learn to not ask. Internally, you might begin to view yourself as a poor negotiator and you don’t even know it. Or, you get what you want and suddenly at the ripe age of 3, you start to believe that you are a “master negotiator.” And, you know what? You probably are.
Well, relax my friend. The time has come for you to polish off that old self-image of your negotiating self and shine it up like new. You can do so by learning (or re-learning) the traits of great negotiators.