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What is Your Negotiation Power?

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BusinessDictionary.com defines bargaining as “give and take process between two or more parties each with its own aims, needs, and viewpoints seeking to discover a common ground and reach an agreement to settle a matter of mutual concern or resolve a conflict.”

Life is negotiation. Life is bargaining. Nothing will ever come to you on a platter of gold. You have to work for it; else you deserve it; or you ask for it—then it is achieved. Whatever you assert yourself at the beginning of any relationship always forms the basis on which you are judged in a long term. According to Wikipedia “Negotiation occurs in business, non-profit organizations, government branches, legal proceedings, among nations and in personal situations such as marriage, divorce, parenting, and everyday life”. Be it in marriage, platonic friendship or job appointment or business relationship. They are all the same.

Some housewives (and indeed some husbands too!) will groan to their hubbies that other men accord their wives more regard. In truth, getting respect is by negotiation, not by nagging, not by unnecessary comparison or mourning. Have you asked who you are? Do your goals tally with your husband's? How much regard do you give, as a married woman to your spouse? Have you for once asked yourself how your relationship with your husband began? Where did you meet? On the Internet? At the pub? Social party? Conference? Reading group? Worship centre? Work place? Refugee camp… Was your bride price paid or were you just picked up by the road side on a night and before one says Jack Robinson, you are head over heals in love? Reminiscing about the past and reconciling the present can do the magic. And lots of mutual discussions that will bring about mutual respect.

Investment in friendship is a proactive negotiation. Many would befriend you for their selfish ends. For what they desire from you—some plates of pepper soup or a bottle of Coke or some 'coins' you are able to provide willingly. That is all. Nothing coming back. Not necessarily materialistic this time but something like good words or goodwill messages or a text message on a public holiday or a minute's 'good to hear your voice' over your phone or a magazine clip or a booklet telling a good story (this doesn't mean to cost a fortunr!), or a sincere smile. But a few visionary ones invest in relationships so much so that they will be told good to hear your voice or pleased to see you now. Everything is not about money or materialism.

Many applicants, owing to scarcity of jobs in the country (and indeed in the world) sell themselves so cheap to the employer. Because some of them have not really done any background check on the range of what obtains currently in industries in terms of pay packs or their desperation to get the job at all cost, they fail to assert their worth during salary negotiation at interviews. Such end up complaining of double standards when they eventually find out that people with the same qualification and years of experience are earning more than they are. True, employers and HR managers crave for previous experience, competence, industry, job knowledge, additional job values, special skills like writing and speaking, additional certificates and certification acquired, ability to break new grounds and too many other variables to mention, an applicant who knows their onions should now beforehand what is their right bargaining is. Not after the appointment. Your worth is your worth and the fact that your worth is not admitted in an instance does not remove its being your worth. If one admits they are worth less, so would they be treated.

Weeks back, I received a mail inviting me to write for an international magazine online. Samples of my previous pieces were requested for which I later sent some days after. Because I knew my worth, I did not mention anything about money (I am not desperate about money anyway!). Rather, I sent my professional capabilities and areas where I could be useful, stressing by busy schedule as well. Satisfied, another mail requested for my terms which I honestly stated in my reply. The recipient sent another mail crying foul that my bill was on the high side. Bombshell: he stated his offer and I told him I could write for him free instead of the peanuts he had offered to pay. The negotiation ended in a deadlock and I still held my pride. Many a time, I have been faced with similar scenario. What I am worth is my worth.

At work, your negotiation is your punctuality, dedication to duties, team spirit, coping with deadlines, working extra hours, going extra mile, your excellent relationship management, using extra resources and energy to achieve results etc. A good negotiator in a corporate environment will never ask for a raise. They would rather find more difficult tasks for themselves to boost their career and better the lots of their organisation. In the end, their work speaks for them. But in relationship, one's negotiation ranges from their selflessness, care, sharing, togetherness, honesty, flexibility, openness and dedication and more.

A good negotiator will do their things differently from the conventional ways others do theirs—but just the same assignments, the same reports, the same memo, the same telephone reception, the same file organisation and arrangements. Something instinctively creative will make good negotiation out of you. Your dress code, your carriage and self-esteem—they all count. Above all your competence and adherence to professional distance—they accord good bargaining. A good negotiator will read and read and read, for secretes of success are buried in books.

A good negotiator, whether given a job description or not, carves out special assignments, a special niche that makes his own delivery outstanding. They know their organisation and its requirements inside out. Such worker will not complain but to get the job done with good results always. There are special prices (sacrifices) and sweats attached to it before it can be noticed by your boss or other colleagues or management team that someone is getting things done here always! Overtime, even such person's superior will give testimonials about them in a manner of recommendations and appreciations of a sort, even in the presence of others..

Once at a conference, a medical director gave an instance of his former matron who after supervision of other nurses on their routine duties at both the out-patient and in-patient departments would go extra miles to telephone the discharged hospital patients from her own accounts to know how they were fairing after treatments. She never complained to anyone despite using her money for this official personalized service. As matter of responsibility, she continued doing this until the patients in their own turn started feeding back the hospital management of her total excellent nursing culture. Impressed, the management initiated a weekly imprest for her official calls. This was apart from commendations and bonuses accrued to her after all.

The most interesting part of this story was that the lady was still being commended after she had left the organisation meritoriously.

A litigation secretary friend shared an experience of a colleague whose punctuality was second to none in the chamber she worked for over a decade ago. Her account holds that no staff would arrive earlier than the lady for years however hard they had tried, yet she would be the last to leave the office.

Since no human or nation in history ever won all wars, it is however instructive to note that even the best negotiator does not win one hundred per cent. Of your negotiation, you are favoured by some, you let go of others.

· A member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), Katib writes from Crescent University, Abeokuta, Ogun State and can be reached via [email protected]/ 08096629914.

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Idris Katib and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

Articles by Idris Katib