We all negotiate every day. We negotiate with our bosses and colleagues, our spouses and children, our customers and clients, people we sell to and people we buy from. Rather than put forth a formal definition, let’s take a look at some concepts embodied in the notion of negotiation.

1. Negotiation is a way of satisfying your interests, of getting what you need or want. We live in a web of relationships and interdependencies, and rely on others to help us. Similarly, others approach us to help satisfy their own interests.

2. Negotiation is a form of persuasive communication. It is a way of getting others to do what we want them to do. As such, it requires us to use all of our communication skills.

3. Negotiation is an opportunity to solve a problem in collaboration with a partner. If both parties can look at negotiation as a shared problem and strive to solve it together, they are both more likely to satisfy their interests.

4. Negotiation is a process. Negotiation begins sooner than we think. It begins as soon as we set out to satisfy an interest, and culminates in an agreement that ideally satisfies our interests fully.

5. Negotiation is a game. It is a game, complete with rules — a game of skill and chance. If you learn to play the game more skilfully, you can reduce the effects of chance.