I’m just coming off a very lovely few weeks with my family. We saw friends, went skiing, and spent 12 solid hours on Christmas day together in the living room playing with new toys and games. It has been great.
And it has also been educational. Because sometime during all this family-ness I realized that children are probably the best negotiators on the planet. So if you’re prepping for an investor pitch in front of a bunch of jaded VCs or just want to get a little more out of your boss, consider stealing some of your negotiating tactics from children.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
Always Ask For More
Children are absolutely insatiable in their requests. They. Never. Stop. Can you get me more water? Can I have a candy? Can I have another candy? Come play with me! I want to play this game. OK, now let’s play that game. Can I have another candy? Seriously, my two children bombarded me with more requests in two weeks than most adults make in two years – and guess what? They got a lot of what they were asking for. Not 100%. But even 20% of a million requests gets you more than 80% of a dozen asks. Also…
Once You’ve Got What You Wanted, Ask For More Again!
The candy example is a good one, but it works with anything. My daughter, for example, asked me to play with her. I said I would for 20 minutes. So we played for 20 minutes. Once our bargain had concluded, I attempted to end the playing session. Did she quietly accept that? Not at all. “Just five more minutes, Dad. Five more? Maybe ten. Or hey, where are you going, maybe we can play there instead of here?” And more often than not she got more than she had initially hoped for. How did she play me so effectively? Part of it is because I’m a softy. But part is also because…
Don’t Take No Personally
Endless requests means that you’re going to hear no a lot. My kids certainly did. But did it ever deter them from making the next request? Did they ever think, “Surely I’ve asked for too much, I should really tone it down.” Um, NO. They just ignored whatever refusal they had just received and moved straight on to the next ask, completely undeterred.
You see, people won’t generally think to offer you a promotion, or agree to marry you, or invest in your company, if you don’t ask for what you want and take any rejections as a temporary setback in what will ultimately be a successful campaign. That’s what distinguishes superior negotiators from the rest of us – and every single child on the planet has mastered it. So learn from your kids! Or if you want, get them to do your negotiating for you. Odds are you’ll end up net positive.