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Family Matters

Brian Buck
240129 Family Matters
© Scotwork NA

As January comes to a close, we’re ending our exploration of Negotiation Resolutions with a topic that’s popular with our community: negotiating with family.

Talking about family business can be like talking about religion, politics, or baseball — it may open a can of worms. But so many people brought this topic up that we can’t ignore it. I feel the need to give a disclaimer: What works for me and my family may not work for you, nor am I telling you how to engage with your family. Now, forgive me as I barge into your family affairs . . .

First, let me give you an idea of the different family situations people want to be better at negotiating:

  • Bedtime with my kids
  • With my spouse regarding where to go on vacation
  • With my three-year-old on daily routines
  • With my significant other on where to eat dinner
  • Dog responsibilities
  • Family chores like emptying the dishwasher
  • Which streaming services to keep

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!

Family dynamics are always interesting and complex, and no two families are the same. Not all family situations lead to a family negotiation. In some situations, family members might choose to persuade each other to get something done, or parents may use their unilateral power to dictate what happens, while other members may choose to just give in to keep the peace. All are viable ways to resolve a conflict, and each has its own pros and cons. 

However, dynamics aside, negotiating is also a viable way to resolve conflict within families, and the negotiating process is no different than it would be if you were negotiating with a client or a vendor.

For instance, negotiating bedtime with your kids is very similar to negotiating a delivery date with a supplier. You identify the delivery date you want and potentially the latest delivery date that would be acceptable. You may also consider what you’d be willing to trade to get the date you want, or what you need in return if you give the supplier their desired date. Then, you’d find out what your supplier could do and negotiate accordingly.

There’s no reason why that same approach can’t be applied to kids at bedtime. First, establish the bedtime, then think about what you may want or need when the kids want to go to bed later and what you’d be willing to do for them if they went to bed earlier. Negotiate accordingly.

Negotiating doesn’t have to be an elaborate exercise reserved only for complex situations or power dealmakers. The reality is we negotiate every day in so many different ways, and those negotiations can often be simple.

The difference between good deals and bad deals frequently comes down to only a few variables and people’s understanding of how to adapt their positions to create value. This is the same if you’re negotiating with a business partner or your kids!

Which brings me to a question: What’s a great family deal? For me, a great deal or a great negotiated outcome with my family is one we’re all happy with and that we can support. It doesn’t leave anyone feeling cheated or with hurt feelings. And everyone understands why and how we got to the agreement we did.

That’s the way I’d measure a great business deal, too.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this series. Please revisit the other negotiation resolutions we covered: Personal Value and Commercial Terms. In the meantime, good luck with your negotiation resolutions. and let us know how they’re going!


We Can Help You Get More of What You Want.

Whether you’re negotiating with clients, vendors, or your own family, the techniques to a successful outcome may be the same. Scotwork experts draw on nearly 50 years of real-world experience to get more of what you want on the best possible terms.

Talk to one of our experts today.

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