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How to Negotiate Like a Baby

In more ways than one, babies are the ultimate negotiators. While practically powerless in most terms, they are able to get most of what they want and need from their surroundings, and somehow walk out of even the toughest negotiation better-liked than before! Here are some negotiation tips on what we can learn from them when negotiating:

Negotiate like a Baby

Does this mean we should adopt kicking and screaming bloody murder as negotiation methods? Not quite. Still, there is much we can learn from babies’ behaviours on what makes our partners give us what we want, and even like us the better for it.

1. Insist on your needs like your life depends on it

Notice I said insist on your needs, not positions. On occasion, a baby will throw a tantrum for something it fancies, but more often than not a crying baby is asking for something it absolutely needs. The instinct to keep crying until they are fed, cleaned, or put to sleep is what allows them to survive.

Unfortunately, the instinct of insisting on what we need seems to be persistently conditioned out of women’s natures, and they are rather expected to be accommodating, acquiescent, and polite. And there is no need that can’t be stifled if you try hard enough- that’s what every newborn mum might tell you.

Principle-based negotiation has been taught for decades in schools of negotiation- negotiate based on interests, or “needs”, not positions- which make you too rigid to achieve fruitful agreement. However, we sometimes face a completely different problem: We have a hard time negotiating our needs and instead succumb to being complacent and avoiding confrontation altogether.

Re-embrace that instinct- your needs matter, so get comfortable with knowing what they are and representing them!

2. Make your counterpart feel there is a benefit to them too

How parents continue to make the decision to bring more children into the world may seem like a mystery to those watching from the sidelines. What makes a sane person decide to give all they have to a complete stranger. Why would you take up such a difficult task, paying unimaginable physical and mental prices??

Well, negotiation is about giving and receiving. And it may be hard to fathom from the outside, but many-a-newborn-parent will tell you: parenting is the most rewarding task of them all. The sleepless nights and stormy waters are all worth it when you know your baby will wake up the next day sporting a new exciting skill, or gazing at you adoringly.

In the long run you will get to watch them grow and succeed, maybe even take care of you in your old age. Kids are tough, but they are worth it- and that’s what has parents coming back for more (also, hormones).

Should you inject your negotiation partner with estrogen? Probably not. But, you will be surprised what people are willing to give you if you make the effort to show them just how much is in it for them too.

Unlike a baby, you are able to communicate this to them with words and actions, so don’t be afraid to use a good measure of toughness on the things that are important to you, as long as you show your negotiation partner you are thinking of their interests as well.


3. Base your strategy on persuasion, not use of force

Babies come to this world physically powerless. They are not able to lift their head on their own, let alone make any threats. Still, they get what they need. Nay, they are able to make you want to give them what they need!

Taking something from someone by force is not negotiation. In most cases, the more you try to strong-arm your counterpart, the less they will be inclined to cooperate with you. Coercion and threats belong to a destructive, old-world model of negotiation.

Not only should violence not have place at the negotiation table, it is also counterproductive. Convince your counterpart that what you are asking for is in their interest too. Show them that they want what you want, and they will pull for the outcome alongside with you, not against you.

Sprinkle in some charm and cuteness for good measure, and there you have it, a master of negotiation!

See you next post!

Yasmine Guerin

Founder of Negotiatress

Originally posted on October 24, 2020 by Negotiatress



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