How To Negotiate Like A 4-Year-Old… And Win

Kathy Rapp Change, Coaching, Communication, Compensation/Cash Money, Engagement and Satisfaction, Hiring Managers, Influence, Interviewing, Job Seeker Advice, Kathy Rapp, Making Offers, Negotiation, Recruiting

My daughter has her first loose tooth. She’s four, so it’s a bit early… but her dentist indicated it’s all genetic. So rest assured it’s not because she’s noshing on hard candy all day, nor are her teeth “advanced.”

This loose tooth has caused some drama. I told her how my dad wrapped dental floss around my first loose tooth and “helped” pull it out. My husband knocked out his first one while eating cereal.

We are currently negotiating how her first tooth should come out.

For a four year-old, she has some killer negotiation skills. So far, she’s kept my husband from even touching the tooth.

Similar to Harvard Business Review’s “15 Rules for Negotiating a Job Offer”, my daughter has deployed three tactics to keep her tooth in her mouth.  Here’s the breakdown and how it could help your own negotiations when it comes to a job offer.

– She Ignores Ultimatums: “If it doesn’t come out today, Daddy is going to pull it out,” totally falls on deaf ears. Seriously. She doesn’t even respond—rather, she smiles and continues to play with Rainbow Dash.

In a job negotiation, no one likes hearing “do this or else.”  If you end up being on the end of a potential employer’s frustrations over your requests and hear, “That will never happen,” you could simply ignore it.  You could also indicate that instead of focusing on X, you should talk about the end goal of making it a win-win for both sides.

You always want to ensure there is a way to save face for the person who may have misspoken out of frustration.

– She’s Likable:  Okay. Maybe loveable, too. The loose tooth gives her a lisp that puts Sid the Sloth to shame. Tack that onto her tearful plea for us not to pull her tooth out and we’re putty. Her negotiation tactics make us like/love her even more, which ultimately means we’re going to give in.

I’m not suggesting you turn on the waterworks when negotiating a job offer, but rather be conscious of not coming across as aggressive, greedy or a jerk. People want to do things for those they like, so don’t do anything to reduce your likability.

– She Keeps It All In Perspective: She knows the tooth fairy doesn’t respond to an empty tooth pillow, so eventually the tooth will need to come out.

“Ultimately, your satisfaction hinges less on getting the negotiation right and more on getting the job right.”

What this job does for your career, whether you like the people you’ll be working with, the commute, your preference on industry and the work itself, is more important than the final offer.

So negotiate away, but keep it in perspective.  Your ultimate goal should be to do work you love doing and in an environment that motivates you.

My daughter has cleary won this negotiation. The tooth will come out eventually and on its own. I’m also betting the tooth fairy will totally go overboard because she’s so freakin’ loveable.