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Posts Tagged ‘needs’

Relationships don’t work too well when one person does all the giving or all the taking, so it’s vital that you understand the other people when negotiating. Specifically, you must understand their needs and wants.

Since we established last week that knowing what we want is difficult, you can imagine that knowing what others need or want is even more so.

So how do you find out? You can ask, and that’s not a bad way to start. But the best tools are simple ones. Observation and careful listening. Notice I didn’t say they were easy. That’s because simple doesn’t always mean easy.

For example, I often negotiate with my youngest daughter. She is a darling little girl who, when asked what she wants doesn’t EVER hesitate to tell you in detailed language. She prefers to pick out her own clothes, to determine her own lunch (and dinner) menu, to manage her speed and to set her own schedule. She doesn’t take too well to someone encroaching on any of these decisions, physically or verbally. While she might want to wear gym shorts with cowboy boots, eat baked beans and black olives, speed through homework but poke around in the garden and wake up at 4:30 a.m. on the weekends, I think it’s safe to say that one of her driving needs is independence (and maybe control too).

It’s part of her charm. And I respect that in my negotiations with her. This isn’t to say she has the upper hand. It means, that knowing she prefers to be independent, I might frame my language to show her how my needs can be met without infringing on her independence.

I hear you. No. It’s not manipulation. I truly care about her independence. I truly want her to feel fulfilled at the end of our negotiation. But not at the detriment of my need to keep her safe, healthy, educated, etc. That would be a sacrifice, and like Abbe Faria said in my favorite pirate story, The Count of Monte Cristo, “I’m not a saint.”

But we’ll talk about that next week when we learn how to Evaluate All The Posibilities.

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Once you know your value, you need to know what you need and want. Sound easy? It isn’t.

Let’s think Pirates of the Caribbean.

Elizabeth Swann has been captured by the pirates and negotiates for them to cease fire on Port Royal. The pirate captain asks “what is it that you want?” She replies “for you to leave and never come back.”

The captain agrees and the first mate orders cannons stopped and stowed and flags unfurled for sail. Elizabeth realizing they are about to set sail with her still aboard demands the captain put her ashore. The captain replies “your return to shore was not part of our negotiation nor agreement.”

Knowing what you need and want means being clear to yourself and others about what your expectation is. Your needs and wants will only be met as far as you can identify them.

My team at work is currently understaffed by two people, so our primary need is time. It is tempting to gain some time by pushing the work back to requesters, asking them to do it themselves for now. However, doing so often means a lot more time on the back end mitigating issues. The requesters are not experts at what we do. We are. That’s why they ask us to do it.

What is our expectation then?

Our team looked at where we spend the majority of our time and found that most of it is spent trying to uncover the information necessary to make decisions, and then ensuring the entire organization is on the same page. Therefore, our need would be that requesters give us all the information necessary to make decisions up front. Our expectation is also that they have the buy-in from all affected functions in the organization. This allows us to be experts at what we should be, push back work appropriately and save time.

To figure out your needs and wants, it’s best to take a few minutes and envision the best outcome. Think it through, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I really expect to have happen? What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like?
  • What do I NOT want to have happen? Think the worst. What would make the worst happen? (And make sure you account for that!)
  • What assumptions have I made? What am I taking for granted…because you may be the only one who is taking it for granted!

Elizabether Swann learned this the hard way…several times in Pirates of the Caribbean. But she soon caught on. Knowing your needs and wants is the difference between being set free on a deserted isle in the Caribbean with no food or water and being set free safely back in your home harbor.

Tune in next week when we explore rule 3 of negotiations–how to find out what others need and want. Hint: Observation!

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