Life’s negotiable: Research-based strategies for solving life’s problems

Negotiable (Merriam-Webster): 

Capable of being traversed, dealt with, or accomplished

Open to discussion or dispute

I’ll be the first to admit it: Life doesn’t always seem negotiable.

On a given day, children refuse to eat, coworkers refuse to cooperate, and the cable company refuses to remove that annoying charge.

But let me also insist that life is negotiable. I gave the blog that name for a reason. To see what it is, let’s refer back to the definition:

Capable of being traversed, dealt with, or accomplished: Each of us is capable of traversing life, dealing with its problems, and accomplishing our goal

Open to discussion or dispute: It’s much easier to traverse life if we learn to leave its problems open to discussion or dispute

I can confidently claim that life’s negotiable because I spend my own life researching and teaching negotiation, among other topics, at Johns Hopkins University.

The purpose of this blog is to help you negotiate life by exploring negotiation strategies supported by many decades of research, a very small portion of which was done by my colleagues and myself. Each dose of this blog will discuss a common life problem, momentous or momentary. From career changes to diaper changes, each will present a real problem that real people face, describing a single, research-based negotiation strategy that I consider particularly helpful for solving it.

So here’s what you can specifically expect from each of the posts to come:

  • A discussion of a real problem that you have faced, are facing, or probably will face—coupled with a personal anecdote if I have one
  • A plain-English description of a research-based negotiation strategy that is particularly relevant for solving it
  • A discussion of other problems that this strategy might solve and/or other strategies that you could easily combine with it

What’s the overall goal? To provide you with more reliable guidance than you could get from an armchair negotiator, many of whose advice (I must say) overtly conflicts with research. But also to provide you with more accessible guidance than you could get by wading through an academic article. In short, I am to translate research into real life.

Am I suggesting that you can neatly solve each of life’s problems with a single negotiation strategy? No, that would be silly. But I am suggesting that particular problems are particularly amenable to particular strategies, and that by regularly learning the strategies on this blog, you can develop a negotiation toolbox that helps to solve many of life’s problems.

I look forward to helping make life negotiable. Let me conclude with a question: Which of life’s problems would you like to read about in future posts?