Good working relationships include an ongoing give-and-take approach between colleagues. When you can successfully negotiate with others, you create a dynamic in which opinions and needs are respected and teamwork is supported. This can result in greater job satisfaction and productivity.
Look for Compromise
Look for creative ways for everyone to get some of what they want rather than making negotiations all-or-nothing. For example, if both you and your colleague need new laptops to use on sales calls, but the budget only allows for one, consider sharing the laptop. Or, look for two less expensive or refurbished models. While neither of you gets exactly what you want, each of you gets something.
Look Beyond the Issue
Negotiations are often one-sided, with a definitive winner and loser. For example, if you and your colleague both want time off around a holiday -- but there's only one slot open on the schedule -- one person gets it and the other one doesn’t. As part of the negotiation process, you can negotiate beyond the original issue to at least make the compromise worthwhile. For example, you might concede the time off to your colleague with the understanding that you get the next two holidays off.
Let Others Be Heard
When you listen carefully to others’ points during a negotiation, it can help you determine underlying factors that can make you a more effective negotiator. For example, suppose you are a manager and one of your employees is trying to negotiate part-time hours so she can spend more time with her kids. Her number of hours might not be the real issue. What she really wants is more time with her family. In this situation, you can let her telecommute from home a day or two a week with the understanding that she still works a full-time schedule. Under this negotiation, she gets more time with her family and you keep your full-time position covered.
Fight for Important Issues
If you’re always negotiating and jockeying for position at work, you might be seen as someone who tries to cut deals to his own benefit. After awhile, others might be reluctant to negotiate with you. Consider fighting only for what is truly important and concede the little things. For example, if you think going to a major convention is important to your success, give your boss facts and figures that support your argument. At the same time, let your boss know that you will be willing to compromise on other things, such as handling a bigger workload the week after the convention to help your colleagues catch up on work they had to delay in your absence.
Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.