5 Ways Travel Makes You A Better Negotiator
Without my travel experiences I wouldn’t be several things.
I wouldn’t be as open to new ideas.
I wouldn’t have aimed for bigger goals.
I wouldn’t (partially) speak another language.
I also would have never boldly asked for bigger raises, better jobs, and eventually move on to start business projects of my own.
There are 3 Important Elements for Negotiation skills: Attitude, knowledge, and interpersonal skills. Travel plays a respective role in developing these further. Why?
Here are 5 ways travel makes you a better negotiator:
1) Flight shopping: Most ‘rookie’ travellers I know settle on flight prices and typically have minimal flexibility. They shop at the wrong times or hit one search on Expedia and book themselves in. (Read the Best time to buy an airline ticket.) Seasoned travellers begin this process with a hard deal in mind. (So, the more you do it, the better you will get at it!)
They won’t travel if the cost is over X, they will set up alerts and search in every nook and cranny nearby airport, they will take a red eye to avoid a 5 hour layover and make it to Costa Rica by cocktail hour. They scour flights at any available moment. It’s almost an obsession, but it’s a silent negotiation with airlines for what they want.
2) Airline mishaps: Flight delay? Cancellation? Your own error got you sitting in an airport in Milan with no money to your name and your sister's wedding in California to get to? (Real story!) Resolving these in your best interest takes skill. You need to be assertive, clear and keep asking if a solution is not presenting itself. Ask to speak to a higher up. Ask again even if they said no, this approach takes presenting your story in a new way to give them insight to why you need assistance.
I now avoid American Air at all costs because of their wretched customer service for a problem that Delta solved with grace and therefore, won my loyalty. In all of these circumstances - airports, security, phone calls to airlines for refunds - I was negotiating.
3) Shopping Foreign Markets - This is where you’re going to really begin uncomfortably practicing your negotiation skills. My first fond memory of this was in the Dominican Republic where I had travelled on a meek backpacker budget but wouldn’t go home without a piece of art I saw in a street booth. I spoke almost no Spanish at the time and had brought along one of my camp mates Spanish guides to help me negotiate.
This was one of the most uncomfortable early on confrontations for me - I could barely understand the man running the booth and it was difficult to counter back with the language barrier. But, I didn’t back down. I asserted my price over and over until that beautiful canvas piece was handed over to me rolled up. I otherwise, would have walked away, which I have many times without what I wanted. Knowing what you want and what you will settle for is imperative. Since then, I have managed to negotiate for goods and services in Thailand, Singapore, Mexico, Barbados and the Bahamas.
4) Cultural and Language Barriers: This is a great follow up to #3. What is considered ‘appropriate’ or ‘normal’ where you live may not translate over (verbal or body language) A great example is that I would never try and negotiate my grocery price at Trader Joe’s or even some established American farmers markets. But, when I lived in Mexico for 6 months, negotiating was a known and obvious part of the culture (which helped me get even better at it.)
This rolls into how your body language can go a long way when communicating or negotiating both globally or at home. Crossed arms universally gives off that you are defensive or mistrusting. This can kill any negotiation. On the contrary, smiling is universal for friendliness and acceptance. I managed a hostel for 4 years and my smile was my secret negotiator weapon!
5) Emergencies: Travel is the best scenario for emergencies and disasters. You get sick, run out of money, lock your keys in your car, get robbed, are in a hurricane..the list goes on. These are opportunities to fine tune your assets (your badass negotiator skills!).
All progress takes place outside the comfort zone. You won’t always get what you want - that’s the perfect time to asses if it was your skillset that lacked (shitty attitude...bad communication….afraid to ask for more?) or if you did all you could. Soak it up as a great learning experience for next time.
Ready to get uncomfortable? Then get negotiating. Ask for what you want. I dare you.
Yearning for an adventure to get your negotiating skills in motion?