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“I worked for a menial's hire

Only to learned dismayed

That any wage I had asked of life

Life would have paid.”

Jessie Belle Rittenhouse (1869-1948), My Wage

“Everything that we want or would like to own is currently owned by or under the control of someone else.”

Roger Dawson, author, trainer,speaker, professional negotiator (b. 1940)

Negotiating entails the attempt to obtain a desired outcome. Few people enjoy the conflict inherent in negotiations. Many will avoid asking for more than is initially offered because of the potential for rejection and failure. However, perhaps unknowingly, most people are regular participants in the negotiating process.1,2 Any time one person interacts with another person to obtain an outcome that does not already exist, a negotiation is occurring. Negotiation is simply a form of conflict resolution. The conflict is that one wants an outcome that does not currently exist.


The image of a stereotypical negotiation leaves many people feeling intimidated by the prospect of the conflict, since they believe they lack the skills or confidence necessary to be successful. In particular, women are more reticent than men to negotiate, with 2.5 times as many women as men describing great apprehension.3 Examples that are routinely cited by men and women as creating anxiety include

The aggressive salesman: A used car salesman or a merchant in a foreign bazaar haggles over the price of a desired object. After an emotional exchange, the parties settle on a price and the deal is concluded. If the agreement comes too easily, one party may feel dissatisfied, thinking, “I could have done better.”

Asking for a raise: A hardworking employee enters the boss's office to ask for a raise. The employee feels underappreciated but is intimidated by the prospect of rejection. Embarrassed, the employee begins defensively by apologizing for asking, but then blurting out all of the justifications for the raise. The boss simply says, “no!”

As a result of these preconceived notions, many people perceive negotiating as distasteful or exceedingly complex. In reality, bargaining is learned at an early age. Children are masters because they inherently recognize that success is achieved by knowing what they want and how to get it.


Most people want to negotiate a deal that is personally beneficial. A completely one-sided negotiation entered with the attitude “I'm going to win and I really don't care what happens to the other side” is the definition of the “win-lose” style of negotiation. While this philosophy may be successful in the short term, it runs counter to the development of positive long-term relationships. Adhering to a “win-win” approach is more likely to create a solution satisfactory ...

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