AMY KIRK: Negotiating a valuable ranch skillNegotiating comes in handy during ranch summits when formulating a plan of action to get work done.
The most-used skill I rely on when doing ranch work with my spouse is negotiating. It comes in handy during ranch summits when formulating a plan of action to get work done.
The use of good negotiation techniques can be more valuable than money in getting what I want and makes working together well worth the effort when things don’t go smoothly. Here are my negotiation secrets:
1. Be wary of help requests. It’s been advantageous to figure out why I’m being asked to help to avoid feeling duped into assisting with unpleasant work. I learned this when I was offered a chance to test-drive our Dodge dually after we’d just bought it. It wasn’t necessarily an invitation to test-drive it for fun, but I was willing to drive it to help load bales (he knows I hate driving slow and prefer picking up and loading the bales instead) for an equal exchange of help with my mundane tasks.
2. Think quickly and delay speaking. Pacing myself in responding has proven to be invaluable. My expectations of what I’m actually going to be doing are less likely to be caught off guard if I hesitate and ask questions first before agreeing to requests. An offer to “go for a drive” generally means driving separately at a creeping rate of speed to assist with moving equipment.
3. Listen carefully for the true meaning of open-ended questions. Ones like “Whatcha doin’?” usually have an underlying meaning that has nothing to do with my husband’s genuine interest in what I’m doing. Statements implying that I’m needed and anytime the word “little” is used such as “I need/could use your help with a little project” means crucial information has been omitted about the project in order to persuade me into helping with a task my husband knows I dread such as emptying and loading stock tanks onto a trailer. This tactic is worthy of caution and consideration for negotiation.
4. Ask questions. If I have my day already planned out, asking questions like how long the job will take is important. If he says it should only take ten minutes, I have to question myself; “Do I have an hour and a half to spare? Will I have time to get my work done afterwards?” but the more important question is, “What trade-worthy work could I get out of him in exchange?”
5. Bluffing is useful but takes practice. After observing and imitating the way professionals such as my husband do it, I’m getting more convincing. Acting as if I’m not overly eager to help after hearing details about assisting with a potential chore can usually incur an incentive. It could be a date, going out to eat afterwards, making him do the beer run, or best of all, an exchange of work. Although, it’s fairest if I get helped first.
6. Additionally, practice wincing and giving unconvincing looks. When I give uninterested looks, he starts thinking of ways to sweeten the deal for my enjoyment.
7. Establishing ground rules is beneficial to maintaining a pleasant work environment. Whether I volunteer or agree to help at his request, a little manipulation keeps the day from going down hill. My standard consequence when rules are broken is the freedom to walk off.
Using my negotiating power makes for a world of peace and harmony to live in.