Magazine article Work & Family Life

Try to Think like a Child.But Act like an Adult

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Try to Think like a Child.But Act like an Adult

Article excerpt

Think about the negotiating techniques children use to get what they want. They might throw a tantrum, be nice, play one side against the other, change the rules, be disarmingly honest or let the other guy think he's won.

This list can't be neatly packaged as a single philosophy, technique or school of thought. Kids just seem to understand that negotiating is as much about people as it is about objectives. They draw on a range of approaches, depending on the situation-including some outrageous ones that most of us have been socialized to abandon.

Yet these techniques can apply to our work life becausewhether or not we're aware of itthroughout the day we participate in a wide variety of negotiations with the people we work for and with. It may be about money, position, authority, deadlines, schedules, hiring a new assistant or permission to attend a conference. Whatever it is, we need or want something and are trying to figure out how to get it.

A here-and-now focus

Kids are successful negotiators in part because they are fearless and will try all kinds of new things without stopping to think of the reasons not to try them. But it's a rare 50-year-old who can wheedle and charm his way into a deadline extension for the third time. He's too worried that the other side will see through him, and he's probably right.

The child, not having learned from experience to worry about failure, just does it-and, very often, wins. But win or lose, kids move on. They get over it. They may gloat or mope for a while, but their grudges don't usually last long.

home" or "be nice," but these are isolated tools unless you learn to think once again like a child.

This is not true for adults, however. We remember things that caused us anger and angst. It's the curse of being grown up.

Children focus on the here and now, which may be one of the reasons they are such good negotiators. …

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