Maybe a parent is negotiating with their kid about whether they can use the car this weekend. Maybe you’re in a 10-year business partnership and have divergent ideas for the future. Or maybe you’re an adult who’s negotiating with your parents because you think they should consider a move into a senior living community.
How should you change your approach when you negotiate with someone you care about?
Truth be told, there shouldn’t be any adjustment to your tactics. Still, there are some baked-in differences between negotiating with a loved one versus negotiating with a run-of-the-mill businessperson or someone you don’t like at all.
It’s Easier to Care About Their Perspective
When you’re dealing with someone you care about, you’re actually interested in their perspective. It comes naturally to you. So, right out of the gate, you enter the negotiation looking at the issue the way they would. You know your brother, mother, father, aunt, uncle, or friend better than you know the average person, which makes it easier to see things from their perspective.
At the same time, there are certain pressures that you wouldn’t put on a loved one during a negotiation because it wouldn’t feel right. For example, if you’re negotiating with your brother, you wouldn’t feel comfortable coming in with a high anchor because you care about him and don’t want to put him in a compromising situation. When the negotiation is over, you want him to wind up in a good place.
The genuineness behind how you see the way your counterpart is dealing with a situation comes very naturally with people you care about. It doesn’t come naturally with people you don’t care about—and even less so if you have to deal with someone you simply can’t stand. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible to communicate with someone you don’t like and actually care about their perspective.
But you should care—or at least be curious about their perspective. The more you care about what the other side thinks, the easier it’ll be to see what’s possible in the negotiation. Genuine curiosity in the mind takes the place of bias.
If that’s the mindset you put yourself in every time you come to the table, you’ll go much further much faster—and your ego will be left at the door.
People You Care About Don’t Always See Things the Way You Do
One of the problems with negotiating with people you care about is that you selfishly expect them to already see what you see from the outset.
There are certain things you’d expect your mother to never say to you because she’s your mom and you want her to deal with you in a certain way given that she’s so close to you and knows what you’re going through, for example.
Similarly, your business partner of 15 years is going to see the situation in the same light. There are certain things they would expect you not to do to them because there are certain things they would expect you to understand about their situation. If you’ve been working together for a long time and it takes them three months to put together a quarterly budget, your counterpart would expect you to know those timelines before asking about money.
Yet this is something we often forget about in business, even though it comes naturally when dealing with our loved ones. Sometimes, things that seem obvious to our business partners might not seem so obvious to us.
Keep that in mind and use empathy as you enter any negotiation, and you’ll get better outcomes.
The Power of the Accusations Audit
In a past life, I used to sell phones to businesses for Verizon. If I were to walk up to a business that had a No Solicitation sign on their front door, they’d be pissed off. They spent however much effort hanging the sign in the first place, and I’ve simply ignored it.
But this is the exact way some of my biggest sales started. Most salespeople might ignore a No Solicitation sign and jump right into their pitch. But I knew that I had to see things from the other side’s perspective to earn their trust. So, using an accusations audit, I’d say something like this: I know you’re annoyed to see me because you’ve got a No Solicitation sign on your door.
I’d start by addressing the fact that the sign was there and that I decided to walk past it anyway. I knew the other side wouldn’t work with me until I acknowledged the transgression. When I did, it came time to talk. You’d be amazed at the reactions you get from people when you address the sign versus acting like it’s not there at all. When you acknowledge the proverbial elephant in the room, the other side is ready to be collaborative.
In other words, if you’re ever negotiating with someone who feels slighted by you—a loved one or someone you don’t care about, whom you should be treating the same way anyway—all you need to do is develop a communications strategy that addresses that fact.
When you do that, the conversation will move forward.
At the End of the Day, It’s All about Empathy
The utmost success in negotiation all starts with empathy and seeing and verbalizing things from the other side’s perspective, which might come easiest when we’re talking to people we care about.
For most of us, however, the problem is ourselves getting in the way.
So let go of your ego and pride. Make it a top priority in every negotiation to verbally demonstrate how deeply you understand the other side’s perspective. When you know there’s no difference between how you should approach a negotiation with a loved one and how you should approach a negotiation with someone you don’t care about or even someone you hate, you’ll take the same successful approach every time you get to the table, and the results will speak for themselves.
The better you know the other side, the better your outcomes will be. Check out our free guide, Three Negotiator Types, to learn more about the type of person sitting across the table and how to deal with them.