"Being a good dad starts with presence not presents"
Lets me honest. We all know those people in our circle of friends who seem to negotiate there way into or out of anything. Maybe it's a better price for a bag of fruit at a market or a pay raise at work, these people seem to have the art of bartering down pat, and they seem to be able to use it to their advantage more often than not. So my question is why aren't we all teaching our kids to negotiate like a pro?
Growing up in the UK there were car boot sales on every weekend, for everyone that doesn't know this is where people all got to the same place and set up stall out the back of their car to sell things. This was where I found my legs in bartering. Going back and forth on a price for an item or negotiating two or three items for a better deal was something I loved doing. Now as an adult u use the same skills set (a little more honed, but the same). While traveling I try to get things like a free airport pick up with my room or a deal on tour if I am booking something else with the same company. When at the farmer market I will bundle items for a better deal. At work I negotiate schedules, time off, even pay, everything is on the table.
Meal Time, Deal Time
Negotiating is and art, the process of listening to what the other person is say and then using your knowledge of past communication, body language and limitations to form a counter offer is almost symphonic. At our house you will regularly hear Lucy my oldest say "Dad I want to make you a deal" this is her simple way of opening negotiations. She knows she wants something that won't come for nothing and she has already formulate a deal to present to me. This process started at the dinner table, the conversation of 'i'm done, no you're not, how many more bites'. I would give a number of bites and she would finish and ask to be excused. Then over time the conversation developed, we split the food up to enable some back a forth, 'Ok, 5 bites of potato, 3 of broccoli and 2 of pie'. This opened a door, the door for Lucy to now negotiate how much of each food she wanted to eat. So after a while with some encouragement she started to counter, less potato, more pie and all the broccoli. Now after a year or more of this process she pipes up with her own a pre-arranged deal to which I have to make her offer to her counter.
Building On The Small Stuff
From this seemingly small meal time start Lucy has moved into negotiating on lots of things, Bedtime, Playtime, toys, treats, you name it and she will come up with a deal. It's amazing to see how her skill set is developing. She already tailors her negotiation to the person she is talking to and you can watch her gauging their reaction to see if there is another round of deals to be made or if this is the point of 'take it or leave it'. She is learning in a very simple way the process of reading people. Obviously, she wont be negotiating for hostages or brokering multi-million dollar deals from her Dora the explorer phone any time soon, but starting now, and having so many years to practice means that one day maybe she will. For now I see the empowerment and pride she feels after 'closing' a deal and it makes me feel good about helping her gain this extra tool in her belt.