Some kids are pretty good at negotiating, since they spend a fair portion of life doing so campaigning for later bedtimes, increased allowance and being allowed to watch what they shouldn’t. But that’s between you and them, and it still doesn’t prepare them for determining what makes decent financial sense. And it’s part of our jobs as fathers – and mothers, too – to teach them instead of just assuming that they know what to do.
In my simple opinion, the bulk of the negotiation work occurs even before an offer or counter-offer is made. It occurs with the evaluation of the situation, whether buying something, trading for something or negotiating a slip-and-fall. To just toss numbers back and forth is a waste of time. But toss a number that is meaningful to the other person, and you’re much closer to making a deal.
One of the kids told me tonight that a friend was moving up to an iPod Touch and would be getting rid of the old iPod; my kid wanted to buy it from her. Suppressing my first inclination to say no, I asked why the desire when the kid already owned an iPod. The answer was that this one was 8 GB – up to a thousand songs, exclusive of any pictures. And how much money do you have available to spend? And what other expenses are on the horizon? And what other funds are incoming to make up for what you spend?
When these were sufficiently answered – not that I liked the answers but that there at least were answers – the next question was the original cost and age of the desired used iPod. These answers were also satisfactorily available. And then came the biggies. What do you plan to offer? And why? An amount was being considered, but there was no reason for why. And that’s where the work begins with the teen. How do we walk through the situation to find a legitimate offer?
Which is where I am now. Fortunately, there’s a little time available and I can go back to the teen with an idea for evaluating what the used iPod is actually worth. And we’ll see how the teen is doing with critical thinking. Who knows? Maybe I can also learn something about iPods that I didn’t know before.