When I was in my early 20’s I remember going into a television store (long before on-line shopping or super stores) and trying to strike a bargain with the store owner for a brand new floor model television set. My experience and negotiation skills were terrible and I left the store without the set and insulted the owner in the process. Young and perhaps a little foolish, I didn’t know the first thing about negotiation, only that I wanted to pay less than the ticket price.
Negotiation is a vital skill for anyone in the workforce. Of course we can easily see a direct correlation to sales positions, or perhaps salary negotiation, but beyond that we may not realize how often we actually negotiate. We might negotiate for the timing of a meeting. We might negotiate for a level of service we provide internally or externally. We might even negotiate for time off work or for the date of our next vacation. As people in the workforce we negotiate often.
Many would likely agree that experience is an important factor for performance and often experience is a critical discussion point with workplace generational challenges. The generations that have been in the workforce the longest preferring to cite experience as one of the most important factors for performance while the more recent generations often prefer to focus more on knowledge or technical skills. When we consider our effectiveness as a negotiator based on our experiences, things can sometimes become a little misleading.
Experience and Negotiation
Experiences that result in learning are where we find the most value. Negotiating can certainly help us to sharpen many skills. We can improve our communication, how to read body language, and even how to research for critical negotiation factors like discovering more about price or value. Bringing experience and negotiation together really exists in the feedback we exchange or in the future opportunities that we’ve learned to create as part of the process. Negotiation is sometimes mistaken for creating a win/lose position, one where we win and the other party loses. This is not effective negotiation; effective negotiation (for most circumstances) is about creating a win/win. This point alone illustrates that learning or focusing on the wrong tactical approach can result in more experience, but more experience of the wrong kind.
The bottom line on experience and negotiation is that experience can certainly improve our confidence, but experience does not always make us a better negotiator. Measuring the effectiveness of any negotiation should consider feedback from those involved in the process, results as compared to the negotiation goal, and where applicable, the atmosphere created for future opportunities.
Are you an experienced negotiator? Has experience improved your skills?
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.