Children are renowned for their constant negotiation of even the simple things in life. What continues to surprise me is the apparent sophistication with which they approach the task. How planned it is may be hard to judge, but the effectiveness is not.

My son will be five in a few months and like most kids this age he has a well-defined mind of his own. He consistently does several things that make me smile and laugh when they come out of his mouth [sometimes not so much]. The tactics are pretty good negotiation lessons or principles in general.

The first thing he usually does is lead with a question. This forces us to make the first move. “What park would you like to go to today?” I did not know I was going to any park until this seed got planted. “What time should we go out for dinner?” He is asking the questions in an assumptive way based on the outcome he is looking to achieve.

He then listens to the answer and usually repositions the response. His new language point is “how about we do this instead”. This first repositioning suggestion is likely unreasonable, but he has now set up the parameters for the negotiation. “How about we go to park A in the morning and park B in the afternoon.” By the time the negotiation is completed, he may not have gotten everything he wanted but he certainly had more than when he started.

I love the natural way that they go about the negotiation process. We have gotten into the habit of shaking hands on our deals and have discussed the handshake as a signal that we will always honor our commitments or keep our deals. If he thinks that I am wavering on a deal, he will be the first one to point that out. He will remind me that we shook on it.



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