"I needed to negotiate things other than pay"
Some groundsmen and greenkeepers tell me there is no room for negotiation at their workplace. Working conditions and pay rates are generally set by their employer, or negotiated by a union, leaving little or no scope for individual influence.
I can relate to this view because, for many years, I worked for an employer who negotiated with a union who acted on my behalf. National pay rates were agreed leaving me little or no scope to be rewarded for my good work, my good effort or my good attitude. Even when more flexibility was introduced in later years it was subject to budget cuts, strict limitations and every boss seemed to interpret things differently. I quickly realised that I needed to negotiate things other than pay, even little things, in order to feel that I was in some way being rewarded for my efforts.
We negotiate every day
So what are the little things that we can negotiate internally and informally? Well, it seems to me, we negotiate every day. We negotiate with our partners, 'you do this and I'll do that'; with the children, 'if you are good then we will go to the cinema'; with colleagues, 'okay, I'll help you with that - but it's the last time, OK?'
We seem to be making little deals all the time when people need or want something from us. Sometimes they just want little things and at other times it's bigger things like our financial help with a car purchase, or taking on the task of looking after an aged or infirm relative.
With some of these issues, particularly family matters, we do little or no negotiating, bartering or trading because it is usually a matter of duty. Interestingly though, we are often keen to discreetly check that everyone else has been approached, everyone else has been given the opportunity to 'do their duty'. I wonder if we then gauge our contribution, our level of sacrifice, against that of others. I suspect we do. This brings us back to 'if you do it then I'll do it'. So, perhaps we are even negotiating this type of thing as well. Which brings me to my first law of negotiation, which is a simple one.
Frank's First Law of Negotiation: 'People want something that you have but its value has not been agreed'
For example, your new employer wants your skills and experience but, until you negotiate a deal or accept his/her offer, there is no agreement on the value of your skills and experience.
Employers make this an easy example for me to quote by using it over and over again when they are recruiting. How many vacancy announcements have you seen that say that your 'salary is dependent on your experience'? Now, if this is true for employment, then maybe it's true for other things as well.
Your good nature is worth something
For example, your worth to others is often demonstrated when someone needs your help at work, i.e. they want you to stop what you are doing (that you are being paid to do) and instead do something they are being paid to do, for which they will get credit for finishing on time. It is at these times when you have a negotiating opportunity because your good nature is worth something!
The sacrifice that you might make to help them is worth something too. So don't say 'OK just this once' or 'it's the last time, OK?' because that is just giving your time away and they will be back being even more persuasive in the future, appealing to your good nature again and again.
'You are a persuasive person I can see I am going to have to be careful with you'
In order for your true value to be established, and to reduce the number of times people take advantage of your good nature, perhaps you should consider another strategy. You might respond with a smile and a compliment (you are good-natured after all) by saying something like: 'you are a persuasive person I can see I am going to have to be careful with you'. This could disarm the person sufficiently enough for you to quickly move onto saying something like 'I tell you what we'll do, I'll help you with this and then tomorrow/next week etc. you can help me with that'.
This brings us to my second law of negotiating.
Frank's Second Law of Negotiation: 'Always make a deal - don't just take it on trust - particularly if you do not know if the person can be trusted'
Your genuine pals at work will always repay the favour, they will even offer the return favour at the outset which is fine. Be wary, however, of the person who says 'Thanks I owe you one' when you have agreed to help. Unless the person is talking about an equal-value favour the phrase can be meaningless. They may mean a pint down the pub, but the problem with this is that your time is worth more than a pint.
Always get clarity from the outset so that there are no misunderstandings, no feeling that you are being taken for granted. If they don't want to 'deal' with you then they will have to find someone else who is a 'soft touch' to exploit.
Frank's Third Law of Negotiation: 'Always write it up'
If you can't immediately think of a return favour that they can perform, then tell them you have 'something on at the moment' and ask them to come back and see you later. If they ask 'When?' then you might try giving the person a time that is 10 minutes before they usually finish work. Chances are they will look elsewhere.
Of course, if you know you want something from them, then make a deal immediately. Whether you make the deal straight away or later on, always follow-up with an e-mail or a brief note that indicates clearly what the deal is from your point of view. People can so easily forget things, especially their side of the bargain!
In the next edition there will be some more 'laws of negotiating' for you to ponder, amongst them tips for 'Negotiating with Suppliers'. Until then, remember your worth, make a deal only when you want to and 'write it up' for you own protection.
you can contact Frank at Pitchcare.com or via his personal website www.franknewberry.com