Workplace Rights

Weekly (1/7/13)

Topic of the Week  Getting What You Need

  • Reduce emotions.
  • Common interests.
  • Trilemma.
  • Win-Win.

Getting What You Need: Negotiation Secrets

Two words are on every American's brain right now, "fiscal cliff." Even with a signed bill, didn't it feel like all of us plunged off that particular cliff? Watching Congress conduct a course in how NOT to negotiate, reminded me why their approval rating is below 20%. Next time you need to negotiate at work, forget everything you saw: the name calling, ultimatums, burned bridges and win-lose thinking. Rather than as a fight, view it as joint problem-solving exercise. Which reminds me of a survey that Dr. Phil did. He asked people men to use a metaphor to describe negotiations, they chose "winning a ballgame." He asked women the same question. Their metaphor, "going to the dentist." It should be no surprise therefore that women, on average, get 30% less in negotiations than men do.

Successful negotiations require less posturing and more problem solving. Whether over your salary, projects, with a customer or with your boss, the following four strategies should help you to work with the other side to get what you want and what they want. So you can continue to have a productive relationship in the future.

Reduce emotions. Stress, tension and games only get in the way of the trust that you need to reach an agreement. Most of us are very good at spotting emotional brinksmanship in the people across the table from us during a negotiation. We're less savvy about seeing our own games. So don't just criticize others, take a long look in the mirror too.

Common interests. You're in a negotiation because you have a shared interest with another party on a particular topic. Do all you can to remind both sides of that shared interest.

Trilemma. Often in a negotiation you face a dilemma. An option that one side favors and another option for the other side. I've found that you need toss aside the notion of a dilemma to see if there is a third option that could do a better job of satisfying everyone's interests. Or instead of fighting each issue one by one, arrange them in a package, so that you can trade off things you want for things they want.

Win-Win. Is there a more trite phrase in business? But there is something to be said for each party looking for opportunities to let the other side save face or get something out of the negotiation. Remember, often parties will have to deal with each other again. So burning bridges and leaving one side feeling ripped off only makes it harder to work together in the future. That's why it's so important to not only just focus on your interests, but to focus on the other side's too.

Joseph Kennedy was the patriarch for not only a political dynasty, but also a financial one. He got the scotch distribution rights after the prohibition and became one of the world's richest men. He had a great quote about negotiations, "Only a fool holds out for top dollar." Congress are you listening?


Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, "The Boss's Survival Guide." If you have a question for Bob, contact him via

Thought of the Week

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending."

–Maria Robinson

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

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