Should you negotiate with your child?

“Absolutely” was the answer I gave to the coaching client who asked the question. But before I explain why that was my answer, let us fully understand what she meant by her question.

In this instance, my client took negotiation to mean a way of interacting where the child would have input into the rules that are imposed upon him or her. Effectively what my client wanted to know was whether she should give in to her child, and move the domestic political system a few steps away from dictatorship and towards a democracy.

But this is a narrow view of what negotiation entails. Rather than a process for reaching compromises, negotiation is a process for creating value and for removing unnecessary pollution in interactions. Thus the benefits of making any person in your family a more skilled negotiator will transfer to every area of your family’s interactions – whether they be about conflict, difficult teenage issues, vacation planning, domestic chores, or career choices.

So the answer to my client’s question was clearly in the affirmative – yes, negotiate with your child! This will give your child valuable practise, experience, and ultimately proficiency in the #1 skill for business and life. The most frequent feedback I get from managers and executives in courses is: “I wish I had learned these skills 20 years ago so that I could have used them in my life!”

Imagine instead equipping your child with these skills at age five…. Without having to pay hefty fees for professional negotiation training!

Another benefit of honing influencing skills early is that it would bypass several blocks that prevent many adults from achieving an exceptional level of negotiation performance. These blocks come in the form of limiting beliefs that prevent us from trying what really works because we have been conditioned to believe that it can’t work. It is as simple as that.

Now, some readers may feel apprehension with creating a little negotiation monster at home. This apprehension is fuelled by a fear that your little one will become too skilled at negotiating, and thus take over control at home.

That is what we call “fear of success” 🙂 and I have once suggestion for you:

IF you… with 25+ years head start in life… and with access to professional negotiation training and coaching… can’t negotiate better than a five, ten or fifteen year old child… then the problem is certainly not with your child’s skill level.

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