When you are doing things within your family you negotiate: how to get the kids to do their chores, what responsibilities you will split with your spouse on numerous domestic issues, and what you will all do either when working together or on your free time, such as a vacation. You negotiate with your bosses and co-workers. You negotiate when you deal with a salesperson who wishes to sell you a car or a household appliance.
Fine Tune This Essential Skill
In an emergency, you may need to negotiate with a gang that is holding one of your family hostage, or another family that has resources that you need or want. You may need to negotiate with a professional, such as a doctor or veterinarian to provide services for you in exchange for bartering.
The best resource that I have to recommend on this subject is the book, “You Can Negotiate Anything,” by Herb Cohen. This guy actually worked for the police department as well as other law-enforcement agencies such as the FBI to negotiate with kidnappers and terrorists. He was also a consultant for many years in the private sector. The book is simple and straightforward, and Cohen breaks down the factors needed for a successful negotiation into three areas:
- Power: this means power of information, special skills, and confidence that you have what it takes to conduct the negotiation
- Time: the limitations needed to obtain the negotiation (deadline)
- Information: the information you have about the other party’s needs and desires.
Cohen was very specific in terms of being “above board” and not trying to intimidate or manipulate people into doing something immoral, illegal, or harmful. He did add a caveat to this concept and said in a life-threatening situation, it is a different story; however, he believed in finding honest and peaceful solutions to problems.
One of the main points is to empower yourself: with knowledge and skills. This article can be very complementary to the articles I wrote on bartering for pre and post-societal collapse. We need to ask ourselves questions in this regard, such as what does the other person need? What skills and/or materials can I provide that will fill this need? What does the other person or group have that I need and desire?
Negotiation means (as we used to term is in Special Forces) the need to pursue cross-cultural communication; that is, you’re dealing with a different “tribe” than your own. Perhaps there are significant religious and political differences that may make negotiating a more difficult endeavor. It is up to you to find common grounds to allay the fears and tensions and enable you to come to the bargaining table.
This does not mean dragging out all of the goods you have with a big smile and jumping up and down, saying “I’m ready to negotiate!” Getting back to the “knowledge” factor, you had better know who you’re dealing with and figure out what they want…and what they are willing to do to obtain what they want. Keep Ronald Reagan’s saying in mind: “Peace through superior firepower.”
Negotiate Like a Pro
This can be expanded upon to mean greater “firepower” in the thinking department, and greater adaptability and flexibility. You have to wear many hats in a post-SHTF bargaining session. There are a few pointers you can follow that will get you started. It means coming across as cool, confident, and capable, not a hothead who loses their composure the first time the other party states something annoying or vexatious to you.
- Speak clearly, audibly, and with calm in your voice. This promotes a good follow-through. Remember, you want something and they do, too. It’s up to you to promote confidence in you with them…that they feel comfortable with you and that you’ll live up to your end of the bargain.
- When you’re speaking or listening, meet the other person’s eyes with your own, and blink regularly. Not blinking can be a sign to them of either a challenge or that you’re nuts. When you meet a person’s eyes with your own, it denotes sincerity and truth, as well as showing them you’re not afraid to speak to them face-to-face
- Avoid directly contradicting what they say. If something is too “heinous” for you to deal with, it is best to break off the negotiation and say, “I need some time to consider this,” or “It may be better for us to speak about this later.”
- When the negotiation is concluded or still on the table and it’s time to break off the conversation? Thank the other party for taking the time. Politeness always pays off, even if the other person does not respond in kind. I’ve had numerous negotiations with third-world guerillas who were more taciturn than the face of the moon. Later on they returned to table and wanted to do what we asked because my men and I were courteous and polite. It goes a long way.
- End on a positive note. This ties into number 4, but pay them a deserved compliment if you can, and tell them you’re looking forward to dealing with them in the future. Good feelings are not just “walked upon”: they can be developed, and this is all part of negotiation.
The skill of negotiation is a valuable one. Life is lived with people unless you’re a hermit in a cave or the Unabomber. Negotiation skills can help you land a better job or save some money on a new or used car. It can be used in all areas of life, in our happy consumer society or when the “Mad Max” scenario unfolds. Tailor make it to fit your needs and best suit your personality and skills, and you’ll find it is worth the effort to develop. Have a great day, and take care of one another.