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Negotiation 101

The fairy godmother smiled and whispered in the little princess's ear; "Try negotiating."

Once upon a time there was a little prince and a little princess. The little prince had a lovely grey pony that he loved to ride.  The little princess did not have a pony as her parents had given her a red Maserati instead.

But the little princess wanted to ride the pony anyway. The little prince said no. The little princess sulked, then threw a tanty, then sulked some more. But the little prince was very stubborn and wouldn't budge.

Later, when the little princess was playing computer games with her fairy godmother, she explained how much she wanted to ride on the pony.

The fairy godmother smiled and whispered in the little princess's ear; "Try negotiating."

So the little princess did some research and enrolled in a Negotiation Skills course. Then she returned to the kingdom to test her new skills on the little prince. She decided to start with the magic "I" statement.

"When I want to ride the pony and you won't let me, I feel sad and rejected and what I want is to ride the pony," she said.

The little prince looked at her. "I understand that you are feeling sad and rejected," he said with empathy. "I know you want to ride the pony. But no, you still can't ride the pony."

The little prince had also done a Negotiation Skills course and was reflecting her feelings and providing useful feedback that the message had been received.

The little princess reviewed her course notes and scratched her head. She had studied hard and knew that an "I" statement was a key strategy in successful negotiating. She decided to try again, this time combining the magic "I" statement with the dripping tap strategy.

"When I want to ride the pony and you won't let me, I feel sad and rejected and what I want is to ride the pony," she said.

The little prince looked at her again. "I understand that you are feeling sad and rejected," he said with exaggerated patience. "I know you want to ride the pony. But no, you still can't ride the pony."

The little princess called her fairy godmother and asked for help. The fairy godmother consulted her crystal ball and shook her head sadly. "Were you asleep during the class?" she said. "A magic "I" statement needs to be clean and clear.  Yours is not. You need to tell the little prince how you see the situation, how it makes you feel and what you would like to happen. And all of this without blaming or placing expectations on anyone."

The little princess gave it some thought. Then she went over to see the little prince again.

"When I want to ride the pony and you won't let me, I feel sad and rejected and what I would like is to be able to discuss the situation with you," she said. She was careful not to blame the little prince or to demand anything from him.

The little prince looked at her. He opened his mouth, then shut it again. Then he smiled and said; "Have your people call my people… and bring the Maserati to the meeting."