What is negotiation? Simply said, it is a conversation about reaching some sort of agreement around a point of contention. The point of disagreement could be a large issue, like salaries or benefits in a negotiation between management and workers. It could also be a small issue, like when you want to eat lunch or set out on your trip. Whatever the scale, it is an important skill, even though it is not necessarily comfortable.
I often have students tell me about times they’ve had trouble accomplishing what they want or need to do because they can’t negotiate with a key decision-maker. They end up scheduled for two meetings at the same time. They miss class to go to the dentist. In short, they end up with what’s offered rather than what they want.
Speaking for myself, although I am a native speaker, I am still sometimes trepidatious about asking for more than I am offered. This is a little silly of me because, when asked politely, most people will be happy to accommodate you. Of course, as a native speaker, I’ve grown up with informal instruction about what is a polite or impolite way to bargain. In general, I would sum it up as follows -- consult, don’t order, even when it is within your rights to be demanding.
The video posted earlier this week offers some frames that use a consulting tone. How would you use them to respond to the following scenarios?
1. You initially agreed to work an extra shift tonight, but you now want to cancel in order to attend an important family event.
2. You want to redistribute the workload for an important group project because you are feeling overwhelmed.
3. You want to change the due date on one of your bills.
4. You want to exchange your airline ticket for a later date.
Use the following words in the paragraph below.
This summer, the bus union had _______________ with their employers. Each side chose representatives who could act as _______________ during their meetings. Before the meetings between workers and management, each sides’ representatives __________ed with their peers.
Their first meeting did not go well. They ___________d ideas and demands, but they couldn’t reach an agreement. There was a great deal of ___________ between the representatives. Before their second meeting, they felt ___________. Luckily, however, both sides decided to change the _________ of their demands. ____________, they __________________d their effort to focus on their most important demands. In this way, they managed ____________ both sides’ needs and reach an agreement.
Use one of these frames to change a meeting, appointment, or plan.
Would you be able to ______action___?
Could I/you _____action____?
If possible, I’d like to ______action___.
Everyone needs a helping hand from time to time. How would you advise your friends or coworkers in these situations?
1. Your colleague has an impossible deadline to meet.
2. Your friend has a passive aggressive roommate who refuses to help with housework.
3. Your friend is burdened with heavy debt from college and credit cards.
4. Your co-worker needs to hire an excellent freelancer for an urgent project.
5. Your friend has a noisy neighbor who keeps him/her up at night.
6. Your colleague has great ideas, but she dresses strangely.
7. Your girlfriend/boyfriend is an amazing person, but she/he is too affectionate in public.
East Bay ESL is an English language school for adult students in the San Francisco East Bay.