Negotiation is a skill that many adults learn to use in their professional lives. Negotiation skills are important to all healthy relationships in life, including marriages, friendships, and social interactions across all ages. While it may not seem intuitive, teaching children how to negotiate from an early age can aid them in developing valuable life skills that will prepare them for adulthood.
If you are a teacher or parent and want to ensure that you have the proper foundation in negotiation training to share with your students or children, consider taking professional negotiation training. The negotiation tools you learn could help kids in the numerous ways.
Why is teaching negotiation skills to children important?
Teaching children how to gauge what is valuable and important to themselves, as well as what is valuable to a peer or adult, is a valuable skill that prepares them for adulthood. Just as in negotiations between two business entities, negotiating with children is usually not a zero-sum game. Children can learn how to create value propositions for themselves, their peers, and their guardians by learning the art of negotiation. In order to successfully evaluate what is important to both sides of an argument, children must learn skills of empathy, how to think with an even head, and how to present their feelings in a logical manner.
When would a student need to use negotiation skills?
Imagine kids out at recess on a beautiful, sunny afternoon. When the whistle blows and the teacher wants them to come inside, the children are loath to leave the fresh air and beg their teacher for 30 more minutes. The teacher replies that they need to continue reading their assigned book as a class. One bold and precocious child speaks up, “Teacher, if you give us 30 minutes more outside, we promise to read the assigned chapter tonight. Furthermore, to prove it, we will pass a pop quiz tomorrow about the chapter.” The teacher thinks over their offer. They realize that what’s important is that the children get their work done, and it doesn’t matter that the work gets completed immediately. They agree.
Why does this negotiation strategy work?
The children have just executed a perfect example of an “integrative,” or, ”win-win” negotiation strategy, which resulted in value creation. This negotiation has a successful result because the children understand not only what’s important to them, but also what’s important to their teacher. The teacher gets what they want – after all, they guarantee their job is done by ensuring the children read the chapter. If anything, the teacher gains more from the promise that the children will read so attentively that they will be able to pass a test (rather than daydreaming in class, for example). Meanwhile, the children are able to gain value by gaining 30 minutes outside during the daylight. However, the children aren’t without sacrifice. They choose to give up their free time at home because they realized that the value of free time during the day was greater than the value of their free time in the evening.
But other than winning 30 more minutes of sunshine, what else can students gain from this negotiation exercise?
Understanding that Different People Have Different Priorities
The students in this scenario recognize that 30 minutes of extra recess would come at a cost to the teacher, and therefore the children need to offer something in return. Obviously, the proposition of extra recess time is invaluable to these students. However, the children’s request to have this time would not have been successful if the children assumed that the teacher felt the same way. The students used empathy to gauge what was valuable to the teacher rather than only thinking of themselves, and created a value proposition that was suitable for everyone.
Self-esteem and Mutual Respect
Because the teacher evaluated the children’s proposition fairly and didn’t dismiss them right off the bat, the children could gain both self-esteem that they were able to successfully communicate and negotiate, as well as respect and empathy for the teacher. The students acted maturely and were in turn treated with the respect they deserved. The students are now more likely to view the teacher as an ally rather than an authority figure with whom they must clash.
Understanding the Valuation of Time and Resources
For a young student, it can be difficult to conceptualize the value of their own time and the time of others. By learning to trade their own time for another’s time, or exchange their own time for resources, the students start to understand the rules that govern our society.
For example, it is difficult for a child to understand the meaning of working 40 or more hours a week like their parents often do. However, by teaching them to exchange time in small doses, they will begin to understand the value of each hour. This comes into play in our scenario when the students learn to trade some of their time now in exchange for a sacrifice of time later. Teaching children how to bargain with the limited scope of resources that they can conceptualize will cognitively prepare them for life skills such as budgeting.
In conclusion, rather than trying to teach students that their only options are the ones laid out for them by authority figures, adults should encourage children to evaluate equitable choices and seek fair and reasonable ways to reach them. Explore the option of taking a negotiation seminar in order to arm the students in your life with the skills needed to negotiate.