So check it out…I’m in the negotiation stage for a couple of job opportunities. I’ve always been one to ask for things up front, because to me that’s a sign that you’re interviewing the company as much as they’re interviewing you. If you plan to stay there for awhile, or be really into your work (which is what they’d want), that’s fair enough, right? But yo, it’s always awkward! For some reason, in our culture, negotiation seems taboo!
(Great quote I read in an article: “There’s a limit to what deference can get you.”)
Which is why it amazes me that America is one of the most prosperous countries and world’s business leaders…we’re born sheltered! What is business? Negotiation, right? And whereas people are raised in most countries to negotiate, from a young age, here we’re a very accepting culture. We grow up avoiding what we perceive as conflict, or of facing up to things that may involve any sort of confrontation, with things, people, ourselves…whatever. We’re told what the price is, and we pay it or not. SO uncomfortable with bartering and negotiating, with facing up to things. We are raised to feel bad for doing so, or for doing things like asking for something that’s supposed to be complimentary anyway. Hell, I was at Denny’s a few weeks ago (what ‘cha know about that 3am Hearty Ham Slam, yo? That ish is like the ham version of steakum, and you need a damn straw for the eggs…hits the spot tho), with a group of 4, when they told us that the kitchen was backed up. One of the girls I was with asked if they would comp us some salads or something (which is a reasonable enough request given the hour), and I felt bad!! Why?!?!? Sure enough they accommodated us, extra croutons and all. It just made me think about how kids in other countries grow up bartering and negotiating for EVERYthing. That should give them a huge leg up in real-life negotiations, which makes me wonder how WE’re the economic power.
So my idea is to raise my young Steves or Stephanies to negotiate. If they want something, they can probably have it..BUT, they are going to have to make a deal with me to get it. It’s not about being cheap or unneccesarily difficult or anything like that, but just learning to frame their expectations so as not to settle for subpar things/service/treatment/etc, and learning not to be afraid of confrontation.
Little Man: “Dad, I want the new Jordans!”
Me: “Velcro?!?!? Oh HELL no, son.” (j/k…but for real, won’t Mike be around retirement age by that time?)
Me (for real): “Hmm…well, make me an offer. How much are they worth to you?”
Little Man: “I’ll cut the grass.”
Me: “You’ll cut the grass once a week for the next year, INCLUDING weed whacking the edges, son, and it better be clean enough for your moms and I to have a picnic on there without even a blanket.”
Little Man: “But DAAAAAAAD…”
Me: “What, you want pink boots instead?”
Little Man: (pouty look straightens out REAL quick)…”Six months.”
Me: “Nine and you got a deal. And you will SIGN to that, dammit.”
Little Man: (rolls to school lookin’ SO crispy, and he’s ripped b/c I weighed the lawnmover down with sandbags…=)
Okay, so maybe this is a little idealistic, but I believe that raising a youngin’ this way would enable him to become a natural negotiator, and raise him to feel comfortable with conflict or with bargaining. In other words, he wouldn’t view bargaining or negotiating (aka expecting value for value) as ‘conflict’, but as a normal part of life. He wouldn’t feel bad about being demanding within reason (the squeaky wheel gets the oil, right?), knowing the value of his lawnmowing skills, but he’d have to be raised to be respectful as well. Of course that’s important. And with girls, maybe it would keep them from putting up with shit from dudes as they get older. But I would think raising children this way would also teach them the value of things, and to know that whatever they want they can get, IF they going are willing to work for it. No free handouts. And they’ll learn to negotiate, EXPECT value for value, and learn the true value of things without being afraid of confrontation.
Just a thought.