If you don’t call demands demands, then it’s easier to realize that meeting them can give you leverage in the negotiations. Call them needs. Meeting another person’s needs is a good thing: I meet your needs, you meet mine, we have a relationship going here, and it’s mutually beneficial.
Fulfilling the other side’s needs is the basis for fulfilling your own. It’s what the process is really all about.
But it’s give-and-take, tit-for-tat, one hand washing the other—take your favorite clich and sticker it at the top of your notepad.
In hostage negotiations, we always give something for something. You want food, okay, good, I got food on the way—pizza, heroes, some of the best doughnuts this side of Krispy Kreme. I’ll meet your need, now you meet mine: Give me six of your hostages. Something for something.
Don’t get too hung up on the balance: one thing for one thing, two-for-two, etc. I think it’s better to keep it looser, like you’re not really keeping track.
But of course you are. If the other side starts balking or even runs out of needs, that’s not a problem: Remind them how much you’ve already given.
“I’ll take less of a raise than we both agree I’m worth, but in exchange for that, I really need . . .”
“I’m going to work my butt off to meet your deadline, but it’s going to cost me with my wife. To keep her happy, I have to build that into the price. . . .”
And on and on. Something for something. Successful negotiations are two-sided, mutual benefit operations. Demands are just a chance to make that happen.