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Negotiation is an important skill to have in nearly every aspect of one’s life. Interacting with other people inevitably brings a conflict of interest, where people have to work together towards their own goals. Negotiation is a very broad domain that revolves around finding a compromise that satisfies all parties involved in the process. The application of negotiating skills is numerous, ranging from bargaining for a raise or a salary and ending up reconciling two friends having a heated argument. There are many personal qualities contributing to one’s effectiveness at bargainings, such as charisma, reputation, knowledge, empathy, and positioning. Thus, the ability to find common ground with other people is incredibly important in social work. The purpose of this paper is to describe my personal negotiating experience.
During high school, I used to work part-time in a small restaurant at the edge of the city. Although I was almost of legal age, it was very hard for me to find a part-time job, because all of the low-skilled labor positions were occupied by students or graduates. This restaurant was one of the last places I applied to, as many other companies flat out denied me a chance upon seeing that I was only 17 years old. When I arrived at the interview, the owner of the restaurant was at the table, glancing through my resume. Looking at me, he asked a question many HR officers often ask during their interviews: “Why should I hire you?”
I answered the question by stating that I will be able to perform the same work as other candidates but charge less for it. The owner of the establishment seemed interested in my response, enough to continue the interview. Later, we negotiated the terms of my potential employment, with him trying to lower my payment bar as far as he possibly could, and me preventing him from reducing my salary to the point it would become economically unreasonable for me to work for him. As a result of the negotiations, we achieved an agreement that I would work for him for a rate 25% lower than that he pays his other employees, with guaranteed raise to a normal salary the moment I turn 18. Two days later, I received another call and was told I am hired and that my working week starts from Monday. I succeeded in scoring a job.
Negotiation Analysis and Explanation
Before the negotiation, I correctly identified the strengths and weaknesses of my position. I was an underage employee with no working experience, putting me at a disadvantage against virtually any other candidate. I did not have any particular skills to offer to my employer, in comparison to everyone else. The only bargaining point I had was my salary. I discovered the employer’s wants and needs in this negotiation, which revolved around hiring a reasonably capable and competent individual and training them to work in the restaurant. Since the training was going to be provided on-site, the only difference between me and any other candidate, besides personal qualities, was age, which brought upon unnecessary legal aspects of employment. I won the employer over by offering to work for less money in order to compensate for the disadvantage.
At the same time, I managed to negotiate a safeguard against being exploited by the employer, by stating that once I turn 18, he would need to pay me in full. This part of the negotiation made the employer recognize that after I reach legal age, the disadvantage I held would disappear. In addition, by that time, I would acquire some working experience, thus enabling me to find better work, if need be. So, the power balance shifted from the employer to me, as it was in his interest to pay me fairly in order to keep me from leaving and having to endure the recruitment and training process with another candidate all over again. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of everyone’s positions as well as the overarching goals behind the negotiation managed to secure me a paying job for a year successfully.
Although personal affability and charisma are important in negotiating a working contract, an understanding of various factors and parameters behind the process make up the core of any successful endeavor. If I were unaware of my own disadvantages, I would have failed to get a part-time job. At the same time, had I been unaware of my employer’s underlying motivations, I would have negotiated a poor deal.