Estimated Lesson Time: 2 minutes
Years ago I was giving a seminar at a beautiful resort in Orlando, Florida. This was a “high class” hotel and convention center that is not best known for their ability to bargain. At the last minute, I realized that I completely overlooked the need for a projection screen, which I needed for part of my presentation. I could have skipped the presentation, but it would have taken away from the seminar. I could have projected on the wall, but that would have given my audience a bad impression. I needed the screen. The hotel offered me one for $250. No matter how much money you have, paying $250 for a screen for just 10 minutes of use is not right. My first attempt at a price negotiation failed–they insisted their prices were firm. So it was time to think creatively. I offered to distribute menus for their restaurant to each of my 50 guests in exchange for the use of their screen. They accepted. That night, the hotel got well over $250 in extra revenue, and I got my screen without paying.
Negotiation occurs when two or more parties want something from each other. In traditional negotiation, usually a compromise is made, and one or more of the parties give in a little to make the deal. Creative negotiation is about creating solutions that take a different approach. There are many ways to meet the wants of parties involved, however, all too often only the most obvious are presented as possible solutions. It is up to the creative negotiator to search for alternative options in which both parties do not have to make compromises, and in some cases, get more out of the deal.
Research in the area of learning and creativity provides strong evidence that creativity is a learnable skill, so if you are not the creative type—no worries. If you are not yet creative but want to profit from creative negotiating right away, get a creative thinker on your team. If you are fortunate enough to have a creative spouse, friend or co-worker, ask them for their ideas. Most would be more than happy to help, and feel appreciated that you care enough to ask their opinion.
Creative negotiating is not about manipulating or deceiving. It is about approaching a negotiation from a different perspective. It’s about suggesting a way to a win-win solution where little or no compromise needs to be made, with the best intentions of all the parties involved. There is always another way, take the time and the mental energy to find it.
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Some discussion questions (some may not apply to this lesson):
- Have you implemented this idea in your life? How has it been working for you?
- Do you have any interesting stories related to this lesson? Do tell!
- What do you admire most about this person? (success biography days)