Negotiators Learn To Deal With The Challenge Of Negotiating with Millennials

It turns out that it's all about overcoming barriers to communication
It turns out that it’s all about overcoming barriers to communication
Image Credit: Christine Thomas

As though negotiating wasn’t tough enough, now we have to deal with yet another challenge: the millennials. It is entirely possible that one more thing that may be standing between you and the deal that you want to reach with the other side is a generational barrier. We’ve been taught how to deal with the other side when they don’t see things the way that we do; however, what do we have to do if they see a lot of things differently than we do? What we need to do is to come up with a plan to deal with this type of negotiating partner.

Who Are These Millennials?

When we take negotiation training we are often taught how to bridge gaps between negotiators with different styles, backgrounds, or objectives. However, what about using your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to overcome generational barriers while negotiating? The good news is that generational differences need not stymie efforts at the bargaining table. As compared with the baby boomers or the Generation Xers who followed, many members of the Millennial Generation – adults (yes they are) born after 1981 who have been entering the workforce since 2000 – seem to approach work life with a sense of entitlement, a craving for praise, and an expectation that they will ascend the organizational ladder quickly. This is what you are now dealing with.

More-seasoned negotiators are sometimes taken off-guard by these young upstarts. Negotiating with Millennials can be challenging for us, but keep in mind that this generation of workers is a highly motivated, creative, and fast-thinking group. The key to dealing with them is to understand that they’ve been raised to expect a workplace that is worker-focused, collaborative and transparent.

Things To Do When You Are Negotiating With Millennials

The first thing that you’ll have to do is to educate yourself about generational differences and trends. Though it’s safe to assume that most employees would prefer more money and benefits rather than less, many Millennials prioritize their interests differently than you might think. For example, they may be more likely to value autonomy and flexibility in the workplace than those who came before them. While inwardly respectful of experience, Millennials may not defer immediately to your authority and may respond more favorably to a less-formal workplace. Before making assumptions about their interests, take time to ask about what matters most to your younger staffers.

Next, you’ll have to take steps to increase transparency. Research has shown that there is value in individual participation in decision-making processes, Millennials will be more inclined to respond cooperatively to decisions during a negotiation, even unfavorable ones, if they’ve been consulted as part of a transparent process. Raised to believe that their views matter, they respond negatively to decisions that are made without broad consultation. Thus, when negotiating with them, focus on being very open and clear in your communications. To bolster the legitimacy of your decisions and convey the respect that Millennials require, take time to describe the reasoning behind your thinking to them.

When you encounter problems during a negotiation, take the time to address the problems jointly. When negotiating with Millennials, you’ll want to stress the value of working together to find solutions to tough problems. In addition to appealing to Millennials’ desire for inclusion and autonomy, this approach may generate options you might not have come up with on your own. By taking the time to learn Millennials’ interests, increase transparency, and include them in the problem-solving process, you will increase productivity, prolong job satisfaction, and create better negotiating outcomes.

What All Of This Means For You

As though this negotiating thing was not hard enough to do already, more and more we may find ourselves in situations where we are negotiating with millennials. This type of negotiating partner may be different from any other partner you’ve had before. This means that you are going to have to take the time to understand what makes them tick in order to be able to reach a deal with them.

The good news for us is that we don’t have to let generational differences stymie our efforts at the bargaining table. Although Millennials may be different from other negotiators, we need to view them as highly motivated. When we are negotiating with them we need to take the time to educate ourselves about generational differences and trends. During the negotiation we will have to take steps to increase transparency. When problems show up during the negotiations, we will have to address the problems jointly in order to reach a deal that both sides can live with.

Negotiators need to understand that we will be encountering more and more millennials as a part of our future principled negotiations. What this means for us is that we need to master the best ways to interact with them. Our goal of reaching a deal that both sides can live with remains the same. Now all we have to do is to adjust how we interact with the other side of the table and we’ll be able to reach our goal with their help.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you need to be transparent about everything when negotiating with millennials?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Negotiator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Negotiator Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As negotiators, we need to be ready to use our negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to deal with anyone during a negotiation. What this means is that we have to be ready to deal with people who are very angry, resistant, and even sullen. For that matter, we also have to be ready to deal with negotiators who are very young. This can be a big deal for us simply because the younger a negotiator is, the more differently they may view the world from the way that we do. A good example of this may be text messaging. Does it play any role in a modern negotiation?