Can you recall a time that you really wanted something but didn’t know how to ask for it? Or maybe you just felt that you wouldn’t be listened to? Do you sometimes want to “win” an argument rather than meet someone halfway? Life presents endless situations that require negotiation.
Negotiation: What Does It Mean?
Negotiation is an interactive process between two or more people. It involves solving problems creatively to prevent or settle a disagreement without giving up on your original position or ideas. Individuals who are good at negotiating know who to get enough of what they want, without making others unnecessarily angry or hurting other’s dignity.
Why Is Negotiation So Important?
As a young person, negotiation skill is an important life-skill to acquire.
- Negotiation helps you live and work with others in cooperation For example in team games, class activities, etc
- It also helps a young person face complicated relationships and overcome them, thereby helping to prevent unwanted sex, HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
- Negotiation builds your empathy. It helps you understand other people’s situation and feelings.
- It helps you get out of a dangerous situation. But the aim of negotiation is not to compromise, it is simply to get away from the situation. Any time physical force or threats are involved, you can also turn to an adult.
How To Negotiate
When people forget how to negotiate, a conflict easily becomes worse. You can negotiate effectively, using the following six steps:
- “I want ____”: State your position using ‘I’ statements. Try to be very specific about what you want or need.
- “You want ___”: Ask the other person to use “I” statements to say what he or she wants. If the person does not use “I” statements, ask him or her to do so.
- Listen Carefully!: Don’t think that you already know everything that the other person is thinking or feeling. There are two reasons to listen as carefully as you can. First, this is your chance to try to find something you can agree with and offer to compromise on. And second, we all want to feel “heard” – it helps just to let the other person know that you hear their ideas and care about their feelings and ideas.
- Debate: Re-state each other’s positions to be sure they are well understood. You must know how to control the emotions that may cloud the discussion. You must identify the emotions, and try to put them aside. Say No effectively to unsafe behaviour using assertive communication skills.
- Bargaining: Ideally, both parties gain something at the end of the bargaining. So it’s important to state what point is the most important to you, and which point you might let go. Look for a compromise that both people can feel comfortable with. You can be creative.
- Agreement: Agree on a solution. Try it out and if it does not work, start the process all over or both parties should go their separate ways.
Here is a scenario to help you understand the process:
Abiodun, who already finished Senior Secondary, has invited Olabisi to a nearby party. Olabisi, who is two years younger, is very nervous. She has had a crush on Abiodun for a while. As they walk to the party, Olabisi sees that Abiodun has beer with him. She feels even more nervous. They get to the party and Abiodun pours a beer for Olabisi. Olabisi thinks maybe she should not say anything, since she doesn’t want Abiodun to think she’s a baby. She starts to take a sip. Then she remembers what she learned in school about Negotiation.
Olabisi and Abiodun face their disagreement and, in the end. How did negotiation help them resolve the issue? Read the conversation between Olabisi and Abiodun. Try to identify each of the negotiation steps they followed:
Olabisi: “I don’t want to drink this. I really am happy to be here with you but I am too young to drink. I hope you are able to understand my feelings.”
Abiodun:“Just have one glass. It will make you more relaxed and then we can really enjoy ourselves.”
Olabisi: “I already told you how I feel; I want to know how you feel. Start with the word “I”.
Abiodun: “Okay. I really like you. I want us both to let our guard down, and to be closer in every way.”
Olabisi: “It means a lot to me that you want to be close.”(Olabisi takes a deep breath and looks Abiodun right in the eye.)“I want to be at this party with you. But I don’t want to drink. I would feel bad if I drank because I know I am too young to be taking alcohol. I also know that sometimes girls get involved with sex after they drink. And I don’t want that either. I think you want to be with me, and you want me to not be so nervous, right?”
Abiodun: “Exactly. I think it would be fine if you had just one beer.”
Olabisi: “You’re right. I want to relax, so we can enjoy our time here and get to know each other better. I don’t want to drink alcohol- that is for sure! However, I would be more relaxed if I know more about you. I was told you play the saxophone quite well? Tell me more about that.”
Abiodun: (Abiodun pauses and sighs. He recognizes he may not be able to get physically romantic with Olabisi so quickly, but realizes that he really likes her.) “Talking about my music might help you relax, but I still want to finish my beer.Okay?”
Olabisi: “I don’t like the idea of your drinking but if you must, just take a small cup not this entire bottle of beer. But I don’t want to be with you if you are going to keep drinking. And if you offer me alcohol again, I will leave now and go home.”
Abiodun: “Okay, thanks for telling me what you think. I sure don’t want you to leave!”
Abiodun kept his promise. He and Olabisi talked all evening. He learned that Olabisi loves to sing. The next time they saw each other, Abiodun played the saxophone and Olabisi sang. Alcohol didn’t come up in their conversation.
Tips To Remember
- Don’t wait. Don’t put off negotiating about a conflict. Address a problem early.
- Stick to your own values: When you are not sure what to do, ask yourself what your values tell you. Some people ask themselves, “If I were looking back at my life, what will I wish I had done in this situation?” If you can state your values, nobody can say you are wrong. It will strengthen your presentation of your feelings and ideas.
- Believe in yourself but respect the other person’s rights. You have the right to speak up for yourself and defend your values and your rights. Think of it this way: You owe it to yourself to do so. Also, if you speak with confidence, your message will be taken more seriously. But remember that getting someone to agree to something that goes against their basic values or dignity is not negotiation; it is a violation of their rights.
- Take time for discussion if needed: Sometimes the discussion enables you not only to arrive at a good solution, but also to get to know yourselves and each other better.
- Try not to be too judgmental: Come to the negotiation with good will. Don’t put the other person down. Be tolerant as long as the other person is being respectful of you.
- Get your facts right: It’s not helpful to say things that are not true, even if it seems that they will strengthen your case. Making up a false argument will break down trust. Even if it works in the short term, in the long term, a lasting solution must be based on accurate information.
- You have the right to refuse something that makes you uncomfortable.
- Use SWAT: You may want to rely on the SWAT formula for refusing unwanted sex or other risky behaviour S-W-A-T: S (SAY no, in an assertive way). W (Explain WHY — your feelings or values.) A (Provide ALTERNATIVES, if you want to.) T (TALK it out honestly.)
Source: Family Life and HIV Education Student’s Handbook, Published by Action Health Incorporated