Aug 24 2013
Negotiating Skills I Learned from a 5 Year Old

Negotiating Skills I Learned from a 5 Year Old

Relentless.  Committed.  Persistent.

These are the words I use to describe my 5-year-old son, Campbell.  Now don’t get me wrong, he is cute and cuddly on the outside, but on the inside he is a lean, mean, selling machine.

When he sets his mind to something, he does not let up.  He goes into total and complete sales mode.  His negotiating skills are completely natural, and that got me thinking.  Maybe we are born with a strong ability to negotiate.  But what influences that over time to allow us to become complacent?

The Want:  So what is it that you want? Maybe it is a smooth transaction, happy clients or a healthy commission check. Whatever that might be, there is something we can learn from the attention to detail children give to their wants.

campbellAs adults, we tend to multi-task, combining our wants and needs into one jumbled mess. What I have learned from my 5 year old is his ability to separate his individual wants and completely focus on the one at hand.

Whether it is a snack Campbell wants, a chance to play the Wii, or a new toy that he has to have, he will dedicate his entire focus, energy and attention to achieving that goal.

Consider this: instead of worrying about every aspect of a transaction including the end result, getting a commission check, think about one small nice thing you will reward yourself with when the property closes.  Stay focused on the reward instead of the want. This allows you to push forward with an open mind even where there is a challenge or set back.

The Plan:  Next up comes Campbell’s first move.  There isn’t any beating around the bush when he wants something and the really interesting part is that he does research.  I have no idea how, but he does it.  “We have to go to Gamestop because they have the limited edition Skylander and I need it to pass a level on the game.” Amazing! Even at 5 years old he knows that he has to back up his request with some reasoning.

As adults we tend to work around the subject and don’t just come right out with what we want.  It could be a commission percentage, an offer for your buyer, or an inspection issue.  Whatever the case, be confident in relaying your want.  The direct approach shows a sense of control and dedication.

Dedication:  When Campbell takes this approach with me, I know right away that he means business. I sense the power change as I’m now on the defense and he is in control. I am not a moderator; I am in a direct negotiation and now have to strategically plan my next move.  Knowing his personality, I have to weigh in on all circumstances.  Will his request continue all day?  Will he accept no as an answer?  Will I have to find a middle ground we can agree upon?

I fully understand that I am the parent and should control this situation, so I go with “No” along with the obligatory “because I said so.” However, that doesn’t always work the way I had planned. Often times that response puts him into desperation mode and the hard selling starts.  Now this will typically go on for several minutes until we finally agree that we are too busy to go to the store.

The next morning I say “Good Morning Campbell”, he says “Daddy, can we go to the store and get the new Skylander” and we begin the conversation all over again. Like I said, he is relentless, committed, and persistent.

If you want to learn how to negotiate, listen to your kids.  Is it their natural instinct or do they learn this skill?  Either way, I hope he keeps it the rest of his life.  He is going to make an incredible real estate associate.

Karlton Utter is the Director of Learning Technologies and Solutions at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

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Comments

  1. Christy Walker says:

    I can relate! I’ve noticed the same thing with my three year old and shudder to think of what she’ll be like as she gets older. She already has learned the art of asking for more than enough with the hopes that we will negotiate to a middle ground. Yesterday, she told me how she picked up ALL her toys and put her shoes away and hung the hangers in the closet so she should get 3 gummies. (Thankfully I know these are gummy vitamins and not candy) I counter with 1 gummy but she holds fast to deserving three so I then compromise at 2 if she’ll do two more “chores.” She’s a natural!

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