The More You Know, The More You Can Successfully Want – Insight from Negotiating at Work by Deborah Kolb

Negotiating at workThis is important. We know that if you spend some effort gathering information you are likely to set higher aspirations than if you do not. We also know that aspirations become self-fulfilling: aspire low, and you’ll likely realize lower returns on your efforts; aspire high, and you’ll more likely stay in the negotiations in a way that makes you more likely to achieve your aims.
Deborah M. Kolb with Jessica L. Porter, Negotiating at Work: Turing Small Wins into Big Gains


Or, to put it another way, the more you know, the more you can successfully want.

I love it when an author tells me what is important. So, in Negotiating at Work, the phrase “this is important” jumped out at me. And, what the authors say is that it is important to know as much about what it is you want so that you can… really want! The paragraph above is from chapter one of their new book, a chapter titled: “You can’t get what you want if you don’t know what you want.” …Yep, I think that’s about right.

I am finding this book a useful read. But, as with all important and useful books, it is the clear, simple truth that jumps out at you. And this book reminds us that the more we research, the more we probe, the more we know, the more fully we understand just what is at stake in each and every negotiation. The authors write about the building effect of negotiation after negotiation (knowing, understanding, and learning from “your negotiation history,” as they call it) — each experience that comes before, along with all the research for your “current negotiation,” helps us want more – want more fully, want more specifically; ultimately, want more successfully.

So, in your next negotiation – and, you will have a next negotiation, soon! – in your next negotiation, ask what you actually want. The more you know about what you want — the more clearly you know, and state what you want — the better chance you will have of getting what you want.

And, as the book says, getting what you want is half the formula. The other half – giving the other party what they want. From the book:

Negotiation is all about “realizing joint gains in a negotiation: the ability to make deals that create value for all parties, as well as (identifying, and overcoming) the barriers to making this happen.”

If you have any negotiations coming up (and, you do), whether at work, or elsewhere in your life, Negotiating at Work is a good book to add to your reading stack.


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