As a social psychologist, I possess expertise in bargaining and negotiation that surpasses laypersons’ commonsense knowledge about these topics. (Bargaining and negotiation are often the subjects of an entire textbook in both undergraduate and graduate social psychology classes; I have taught both.) Knowledge of bargaining and negotiation is more important in everyday life than in the classroom; many of our daily interactions require us to make deals, reach compromises, and otherwise adopt positions that are somewhat different than the optimal strategy we had hoped for. The old maxim, “getting to yes” is all about getting what you want via compromise, while, at the same time, not giving up anything of importance. When one works with one’s spouse, bargaining and negotiation are required for the smooth operation of the business. It is highly unlikely that any two people, particularly strong willed entrepreneurial types, will solve a problem, develop a new product, or manage employees in exactly the same way. This means the issue at hand will need to be discussed (calmly, please!) and a solution, often one based on compromise, will have to be reached so that both parties are satisfied their interests have been met. The basic key to bargaining and negotiation is being willing to give up some nonessential items while holding on to the items that are most personally relevant. And, walking away is not an option when one’s business partner is one’s spouse: you WILL see this person later when you get home!
The key in any bargaining is determining what is really important, both overall, and to the other individual. And, bargaining is a skill important to many aspects of life; few of us can just demand to get things our way and have it happen (unless maybe one is Donald Trump or perhaps a federal judge). In my spouse/business partner’s and my working relationship, bargaining is critical to accomplishing our goals and those of our clients. We have to prioritize and bargaining is sometimes an important part of shifting priorities. For example, if a client schedules something on short notice requiring one of us to change our own plans, the bargain may be somehow to replace or “compensate” the one with plans in some way – a piece of jewelry, better seats at the next concert, etc. And, Melissa’s expertise in bargaining means she usually walks away with the better end of the deal – she knows how to work it! But, on a more serious note, her expertise with bargaining is brought to bear frequently in observing mock jurors decide a case and the explaining to our clients “what just happened?” when a bargain is struck by the jurors resulting in an unanticipated (by the client) verdict.
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