“I want the blue toy! I want the blue toy!”
Nine years ago, these were the passionate screams of my 4 year old son, Lucas, as we walked through Toys R Us. Although embarrassed by the outburst, I quickly realized I had a great teaching opportunity for my son. So I calmly responded,
“Lucas, I understand you really want the blue toy. Who are you expecting to buy it for you?”
A bit surprised, he pointed his little finger at me and said, “You.”
To that I replied, “So you want me to spend my money on a blue toy for you because you want it? What can you give me that I want in return?”
With a little smile on his face, Lucas said…”I love you?” He had zeroed in on one of the only bargaining chips a four year old has.
Smiling myself, I thought: my boy sure is a fast little learner. No, he didn’t get the toy, but that exchange introduced a crucial skill in real estate and life: negotiation.
Most of what we want in life involves the participation of other people. Whether it’s romance, family or dealing with real estate clients (or other agents), the human world is a series of “negotiations” with other people.
Some 15 years ago I stumbled onto a little known book entitled Getting What You Want written by Kare Anderson. To this day, I continue using the principles in this book to reach happy agreements and resolve conflicts.
Employing a straightforward approach, the author breaks conflict resolution into three parts she calls “Triangle Talk”:
“Triangle Talk” lets you express your own wants and needs in ways that intrigue people, rather than alienate them. Negotiation is not about manipulation or you winning and them losing; it’s about reaching an agreement that works for both parties.
Remember, it’s not what you argue about. It’s how you argue.
Step 1: Know Exactly What You Want
Without knowing what you want, you will never get it. And you must be very specific. It is much better to say, “I want Bob to give me at least two qualified referrals” than “I want Bob to be a happy client.”
Don’t ask yourself:
- Who is right?
- Who is wrong?
- How can I win?
- What are they trying to do to me?
Do ask yourself:
- What precise result do I want in this situation?
- Would any objective person be able to tell whether you got what you want?
Step 2: Find out what they want and make them feel heard
People need to feel heard before they will participate in a resolution.
- Ask questions. Don’t guess.
- Rephrase and clarify.
- Play detective.
- Accept where they are.
Be quick with your ears and slow with your mouth!
Step 3: Propose action in a way they can accept
Now that you know what you want and what they want, you can find the common ground. And there is always some common ground.
- Speak to their needs first.
- Always turn the conversation back to what they want, their experiences, and their reactions.
- Be fair and reasonable. Don’t propose something that insults them.
- Remember, the point is to achieve your goals, not prevent others from achieving theirs.
To improve communications, use “Bridging” by starting with: 1) Their Interests, then 2) Common Ground and ending with 3) Your Interests.
For example: “I understand the importance of short contingencies in order to avoid buyer’s remorse (their interest) and I agree (common ground). I have an idea to make this happen without stressing the buyer.”
There is no point in escalating the conflict. No one wins if you don’t reach an agreement.
Oh, and my son Lucas today is a very productive and happy 13 year old. He is even reading Getting What You Want to help him work through some of the inevitable conflicts that arise in teenage life.