Negotiating our way through life is a matter of how we deal with other people just as much as it is how we handle the bottom line numbers at the end of the month. In fact, the two things go hand in glove. If you get the best out of the people around you, and – more to the point – if you get the best deals from the people around you, those month-end figures are going to be a lot healthier.
So, when we say ‘negotiating’ we are not kidding.
Most people have the idea that a negotiation is a kind of a pitched battle. If you are haggling for a used car or debating with your partner how to make the best use of a tax refund then the negotiation process is pretty easy to identify. You lock horns, you put your negotiating wits against each other and may the best person win. Those negotiations are nice and static, and no-one would ever argue that they are perfect examples of what ‘negotiation’ means.
But there is more to negotiation than just haggling for what you want. The subtle, easily overlooked undercurrents of our daily lives are ripe with opportunities to press your agenda, to push your interests and to set up a sequence of reactions designed to pave your way to your version of success.
If this sounds a little manipulative, do not be alarmed. What we are describing here is simply a formal acknowledgement that this is how people get along. When you meet someone for the first time, there are good reasons for smiling and shaking their hand. You do not know what the future of your association might hold. Why would you want to shut down a relationship that might be the most important of your life before you have even given it a chance?
This may not admittedly be what we ordinarily see as negotiation. But if we see that process in terms of maximizing your own benefit – and that does not have to be in financial terms, the same logic applies to friendships, family relations, love affairs and everything else in between – then it is perfectly reasonable to talk this way.
Let’s take a couple of different scenarios to make the point. People who provide leadership typically do not wear their hearts on their sleeves. They know that some of their own emotional reactions may be positive, but some of their reactions are only going to distract from whatever the job in hand is. That is why generals and politicians tend to be fairly stiff characters. Those people make an assessment about what their goals are and they behave in a manner that is most likely to see them achieve those targets.
That is not meant to say you have to start living your life standing to attention like a four-star general on parade. It is just meant to illustrate the psychology that leaders who take their leadership seriously employ to get to where they need to be.
An even more clear-cut example is successful poker players who employ a form of poker psychology that is as much about playing their opponents as it is playing the odds on the table. What poker players do in terms of gauging the reactions of other players, and seeking to maneuver them into a particular state of mind, is merely a codified analogy for what we all do all of the time. Poker psychology is no more than day to say psychology stripped down to a nakedly competitive common denominator.
Real Life Situations
In day-to-day life we are not always playing for cash, but often times we are. Dealing with other people, whether at work or in our leisure time, is always a form of a trade-off, a negotiation if you will. You may have noticed that it is the people who make the effort to smile and make small talk who get to be the most well thought of. Their investment in the small change of those interactions can oftentimes return a handsome dividend. That may be in the form of a job opportunity, a recommendation or just an introduction – who knows where it might lead?
So the idea that negotiating is something that only happens over a used car or the level of your rent is a misnomer. The seeds of those discussions may well have been planted in a thousand other seemingly meaningless exchanges over however many years.
And there is another benefit to thinking this way. Because if you know that you have a reputation and a public standing that count in your favor, and if you are happy in the way that you negotiate your relations with other people day to day, you will not have anything to fear from the prospect of discussions about car sales, rents, bank loans or any of the other formal ‘negotiations’ that are part and parcel of modern life. Recognizing that selling yourself is not a matter of a formal pitch but a way of being is the sure-fire way to successfully – and happily – negotiate your way through life.
Author Bio: Craig Spears is a personal finance consultant. He enjoys sharing his ideas and insights online. His articles mainly appear on personal finance and money websites and blogs.