Allison Beadle, MS, RD, LD
Editor, RDBA Weekly
Negotiation. The word itself is enough to make many of us just a little bit nervous. But should it? Ask any seasoned professional and they’ll tell you that negotiation is just part of business. And if you think about it, negotiation is just part of life. We negotiate when we buy a house or a car. We negotiate with our kids over bedtime. We negotiate with our spouses over domestic responsibilities. Life is literally full of negotiations.
When I was getting ready to begin my job as a retail dietitian for the Central Market Division of the H.E.B. Grocery Company, a mentor told me that I absolutely must acquire negotiation skills—they’re critical to business success. I was daunted, to say the least. But I’ve found over the years that the worst part about negotiation is being afraid of it.
Throughout my career, I’ve read articles and books on the topic and have found myself actively engaged in negotiating salaries, job descriptions, contracts, budgets, programs, staffing, etc. And although I still have much to learn, I’ve realized that negotiation, at its core, is simply a communications skill. Let’s take a look at some basic principles to keep in mind:
And as with anything, negotiation takes practice. You’ll have negotiations of varying degrees of importance throughout your career, and you’ll hone your skills with each encounter. And before you find yourself at the table, role play with a close colleague or friend so you’ve mapped the conversation and are comfortable with it before it even takes place.
By getting comfortable with the concept of negotiation and familiarizing yourself with its basic principles, you’ll be ready to confidently advocate for yourself, your team, and your initiatives, and this will further strengthen your impact as a retail dietitian.