Often, people think of approaching personal negotiations differently than professional negotiations. Personal negotiations involve emotions based on essential relationships in our lives, which can make it hard to look at them through a professional lens. But in applying our professional negotiation practices to our personal lives, you might be surprised at what outcomes you achieve.
On a recent episode of Negotiations Ninja podcast, I spoke with Marty Latz – author, international speaker, and negotiations trainer – about his highest point in negotiation and his lowest point. After 18 years of marriage, Marty claimed his negotiation high point was the navigation of his marriage. He attributed its success to his ability to apply his professional skills to his relationship. For Marty, personal and professional negotiation skills are the same, and you can use the differences in experiences to add to each other.
“What I learned, and what opened my eyes to a great degree, was that it’s much more about asking questions and getting information, listening and trying to understand, and focusing on your counterparts,” says Marty. “If you can find out what their interests are, what their needs are, instead of arguing or convincing, you can lay out some options that may satisfy their interests. And also, of course, satisfy your interests.”
Exploring your counterpart’s interests is the key to unlocking the solution to your negotiation. Their interests aren’t necessarily what they are outlining to you as their goal or position. Marty calls interests the hidden agenda. Interests are the things that are driving their position; they are the root of the goal. If you can find out what those interests are, solutions will be more natural to create.
In personal negotiations, like professional negotiations, asking questions and actively listening can help solve any problem, and doing these things in person is crucial. To determine someone’s interests, Marty says: understanding body language, building a rapport, finding common personal interests, and creating an environment in which the other person can feel safe are crucial. Creating or building upon a relationship is more natural in person than on the telephone, by email, or through social media.
When an argument is arising with your wife, relative, or friend, think about how you would handle the discussion professionally. When in a professional negotiation, think about the tactics you might use if you were talking to your wife. Listen deeply, build a rapport and safe environment, and find the interests.