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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

The Art of Negotiation

As a parent or professional, does the very thought of a "negotiation" mean "going up against" somebody who's skills are far better than yours? Whether you are working with a public official to get favorable legislation or regulations or with a local school to get accommodations for your child, there are certain skills you need to become a good negotiator. This tip sheet will show you how to inventory your skills, listen to the opposition, and identify a good outcome.

You can be a hard ball negotiator but you run the risk of alienating those you are negotiating with and making them resistant to what you are working for. If you're a soft ball negotiator, you may not be convincing enough to get what you want. You need to position yourself somewhere in the middle by modifying the two opposing techniques. Here are some modified techniques you need to learn to become an effective negotiator.

Hardball/Softball Variations for Negotiating

  • Before you do anything else . . .
    • Be sure you understand what the issue is and what your position on the issue is.
    • Research your opponents. What is their style? What is their "corporate" image?
    • Try to understand what they want and why they want it. Develop a set of options to solve differences. What compromises might you accept which are still in line with your goal?
    • Try to anticipate your opponent's argument and prepare answers.
  • Make sure you are good listener.
  • What is the timeframe for coming to an agreement and can you control it?
  • Realize that participants are opponents. Each has his own set of values and his own ideas of what they want to accomplish. That is when your listening skills are most important.
  • The goal of negotiation is to come to an agreement. It may not be completely acceptable to both sides. It may consist of one or several compromises on both sides.
  • Be prepared to defend your goals. Be firm; don't be swayed easily. Don't be intimidated.
  • Try to remember that your opponents are just trying to do their job. Without any evidence to the contrary, trust that they will be fair.
  • Work on finding solutions. If you are too rigid in maintaining your position on an issue, you may lose reciprocation by your opponents.
  • Don't propose the options you have prepared until you have fully discussed the issue. Your opponent may have a better, more acceptable solution in mind.

Keep these tips in mind. They will help you to stop thinking about a negotiation as a complicated emotional event and start you on a path to be a better parent and professional advocate.

© 2009 American Foundation for the Blind
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