Let's Make A Deal.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am in the position of negotiating. A lot. And usually with the same select people. Lucky me.

To be honest, I like to negotiate. It's the purest form of mental gymnastics I have found. When I was in my Master's program, the gentleman who taught my negotiation class was a former negotiator for the US government and had worked through several hostage releases. I'm not sure it gets any more impressive than that, and to be honest, I couldn't get enough. The class could have been 5 years long and I would have signed up for it.

I learned many things in that class, but one of the most profound (If Oprah were here she would call it an "A ha!" moment) things he taught was that negotiation is a give and take, and anything less is a favor. In other words, I give you something in order to get something. And if there's nothing in it for me, and I agree to suit up for mental gymnastics, it's called a favor. Wow.

The other profound thing he taught is that we are not bound to negotiate. So, when the people in my life whom I have the pleasure of negotiating with offer something that I'm simply not interested in, if I don't feel like doing them a favor, then I have the option to take a pass. Do they like it? No. Does it matter? Not usually.

Talk about liberating.

So, here's the take-away (and I'm hoping those on the other end of my constant negotiations are reading this): If you want to negotiate, find a way to make it interesting and worth my time. If it's not, find a reason that I might want to do you a favor. If you come up empty-handed on both counts, expect me to take a pass. It's that simple.

Here's the other thing I learned: If we're friends or have a friendly relationship, the word we use is "compromise." In other words, I compromise with my husband, family, and friends all the time, and I'm happy to do so. We don't negotiate. Negotiation is a compromise that's missing the friendly. If we're negotiating, it's a business deal, and unless it's worth my time (or your time), then it doesn't need to happen.

I have found that if I can keep these few key lessons in mind when flipping and spinning through a game of mental gymnastics, it is far clearer than if I forget. I know that negotiating is a part of life, and we all do it. Hopefully, these lessons that seem to present themselves with alarming frequency in my life will help you in your negotiations as well.

Jennifer Korfiatis