It strikes me that some of our most fraught negotiations are not in the boardroom or during a mediation, but with family and friends in the lead-up to the holiday season.
Some of these holiday season negotiations rival the biggest corporate deals for complexity, number of parties, a protracted history of dealings and ever-changing power dynamics.
Simply planning a family get-together at Christmas time involves a negotiation about whose place it will be at, who is bringing what, who is driving home and what gifts to buy. There will planning needed for how to avoid the clash of personalities that arose last year and where to seat “that uncle” that everyone seems to have.
Here are my top three tips for negotiating the holiday season:
- Anchoring. In negotiation, the anchoring bias is the tendency to rely too much on the first piece of data. For holiday plans, anchor your desired outcome by being the first to suggest the plans. It is harder for others to adjust from the starting point and suggest alternatives if you’ve already named an offer.
A polite “We’d like to have everyone over to our place this year” saves you the dreaded annual trek.
- Scenario Planning. If you suspect you will receive the same boring present or you’ll have guests offer to cook the same dated recipe, plan ahead for this. Work out how you’ll react in these circumstances. Good negotiators plan responses for a myriad scenarios. Try “I have always appreciated the effort you put into the Ham and Banana Hollandaise and this Christmas I’d love to honour you with a year off”.
- Pick your battles. There are times in a negotiation when offering a trade-off is the wrong approach. Christmas time with your family is probably the wrong time to hold out for a concession. I’m not suggesting you lie, but keeping the importance of the relationships top of mind is the proper thing to do. Instead of “why do we have to go your family’s house every year?”, try “I’ll happily tag along because I know it is important to you”.
I hope these tips help. Get in touch if I can help with any of your negotiations.