What can moms teach us about negotiation?

Today being devoted to mothers, we might consider what our mothers can teach us about negotiation. Everyone’s mom being different, it’s far from an easy task. But I’d venture that many of our moms display a few simple attributes that, should we choose to emulate them, can serve us well at the bargaining table and beyond. In short, I’d like to suggest that emulating the following five features of many of our moms can make life more negotiable:

  1. Patient: Moms endure a never-ending stream of challenges from their kids. But many seem to do so with patient resolve, quietly awaiting the day when we stop dropping food and start using our $^%^*^& plate. As I’ve said before, patience is one of the best negotiators’ least appreciated virtues.
  2. Calm: Even while we drop our spaghetti, then our meatballs, then our milk, many moms remain remarkably calm. Sure, the milk tests their nerves more than the meatballs, and the meatballs more than the spaghetti. Sure, we can even detect a slight edge on the fifth straight night of food-dropping. But somehow, many moms remain strangely serene, even while we push all of their buttons, and then some. Negotiators would do well to do the same, never letting their counterparts’ emotions or maneuvers dictate their own reactions.
  3. Caring: If many moms are just one thing, it must be caring. Many moms’ wellspring of caring for their own kids runs deep, so deep that it usually even endures the teenage years. Put in their position, I’d bet that few of us could do the same. But most of us must do the same when we negotiate, as we pretty much have to show some concern for our teenager of a counterpart to find a mutually-satisfactory solution.
  4. Prepared: Most of us need an app to stay on top of our own schedules and to-do lists. Somehow, many moms are intuitively prepared to manage the schedules and to-dos of an entire family unit with the precision of a military commander. Somehow, they keep the exact time it takes to get to soccer, the exact amount of peanut better our sister prefers, and the exact dosage of children’s Tylenol in their head at the same time. In a word, they’re always prepared—as are the best negotiators.
  5. Firm: Many moms are soft and sweet, but not entirely so. They also know how to draw a bright red line in the sand. Should we dare to cross it? Hell hath no fury. Put simply, many moms have a firm bottom line, and they know what to do if and when we foolishly decide to cross it. Likewise, the best negotiators remain forever cognizant of their bottom line, never failing to exercise plan B if they have to.

In short, many moms can teach us a great deal about negotiation, should we choose to reflect on their positive attributes and link them to our own lives, personal and professional. For this and so many other reasons, happy Mother’s Day.

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