Toddler Rules for Negotiating with Your Leader

Sometimes our efforts to negotiate with our leader lead us feeling about as fruitless and frustrated as the adorable toddler in this viral video.

In short, when negotiating with your leader, Toddler Rules dictate that you should:

  • Just keep repeating your demands. Eventually, they’ll have to listen.
  • Remind your opponent about the negative consequences of not coming into agreement with you. What happens if I don’t get what I want? Pow-pows on the butt. That’s fun for…nobody.
  • Never dismount…even when the horse is most definitely dead! Do not give in. Do not compromise. Stick to your guns.

Unfortunately, we all know people who have consistently deployed these failed negotiation tactics over and over! Thankfully there is, of course, a better way, and time spent negotiating with your leader (or customer) doesn’t have to mirror the definition of insanity.

1. Focus on what you can do.

I’m still surprised at how many people simply respond to their leader or customer’s request with, “No, and here’s all the reasons of why we can’t do that…” Quit focusing on how the rules or your finances dictate what you cannot deliver and instead think creatively about what you can do.

2. Offer options.

As a follow-up to No. 1, come up with two or three options that will allow you to fulfill your leader’s request. Present those to your leader, explaining the pros and cons of each one, and allow her to choose which one she prefers.

3. Create a plan together.

If you are not sure where to begin, start at square one, and schedule some sit-down with your leader to think through the challenge and come up with a plan together.

4. Be willing to be the one who gives more.

It is probably the least popular option, but sometimes it is the best one. Giving into a request or being the one who gives more doesn’t usually result in immediate compensation, but it is an investment in the relationship, which often pays dividends in the long run. 


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