Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Negotiate

‘If all your negotiations are always successful, you are a very poor negotiator and won’t last long around here.’

(From an unnamed source high up in an administration)

I heard this and thought in my gut -- this is so wrong and so outside my experience … it might be right.

We don’t live in a long term country and don’t think or plan for what’s best for the future. Enlightened self interest seems to require a winner take all, adversarial, and zero-sum approach to all things lively and monetized. We love our grandkids, but will pull out nickels from their ears to hide the dollars we borrow in their name. We are not long-sighted people, for whatever reason you pick or choose.

I have always thought of negotiation as compromise. You meet, talk, decide what’s really important to you – then compromise and learn to live with the parts you don’t like, and maybe, plant seeds for the future that might get you a little more of what you really want. Goodwill, honesty and an eye for future interactions the benchmark for successful compromise. To me this has always been how I would describe negotiations.

There are tough people to make a deal with – the absolute people. Religions and Neocons tend to breed them – they are not social animals and people you can make a deal with. They are right and you are wrong and any give you give is taken as a right not a position. It’s best to leave these people alone, or put them in jail if they get too frisky. These are fringe players – found throughout history, and when the armies of the Antichrist raise up and ravage the earth – they will be powered by people like this, in uniformed suits of blue and white

But these others? Working without fixed morality and only seeking the edge of the moment? What’s to be made of them and their self interested moments in the sun? Do we allow them to ruin the future by bullying and browbeating decent people who just want to get along? Or is this the pinnacle of capitalism – the dog eating dog growth that averages out over time and leaves us all the better for the taking? Is this the arena that we need to throw quiet thoughtful people to -- the lions of slash and burn merchandising?

Don’t know, care slightly. I think that in the long run, people like this and a society that allows them to run without a leash will eventually be found in the ashbin of history, competing with lepers of Molokai for cultural relevance.















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