Things.  They’ve been happening.

Just not here.

Which is too bad.  Because I like it here.

To the people that keep coming here looking for “old school batman”: Bless You.

To the one guy that keeps coming here looking for “tina faye porn”:  Sorry.  But not really.

I’m about to head out for a long over due day off, so this weekend there will be, yet again, nothing new posted here.  BUT I will be traveling with three of my most favorite of favorite artists and I plan on exploiting the heck out of them.

For ideas.  For the blog.

In the mean time, I wanted to post a few words on a phenomenon that I’ve been noticing a lot recently, both in myself and in folks that I like a whole bunch.

It is the unfortunately common state of being one’s worst enemy.  And in negotiation it can be hard to spot.  Because it often masquerades as being “reasonable,” “open-minded” or, heaven forbid, “fair.”

The way it often exhibits itself is at that point in time where you ask yourself, “How much more can I give to finish this?” or “Man, what more could they possibly want?”  We all get there, particularly when the negotiation is personally or professionally important.

Because when things are important, we hedge through alternatives in our mind.  We attempt to second guess the other side’s moves based on a variety of influences that we’ve (generally) only shared with ourselves.

I always think of it as trying to play Star Trek chess.

If you ain’t Spock or Data, it ain’t gonna work too well.


Because you have emotion.  You’re personally vested in the outcome and therefore have difficulty separating yourself from the possible next steps of the other side.  You disregard perfectly good alternatives they may have because they don’t jive with your bias of the situation.

Don’t worry; it just means you’re human.

First, let’s try to notice it and then we’ll figure out what to do about it.

When talking about a frustrating negotiation experience with someone else, these phrases should give you pause:

  • “I need to…”  Why do you “need”?  Do you “need to…” because you believe it will provoke action from someone else?  Why do you believe that?  Have they said that or are you guessing?  Guessing isn’t bad if it’s educated.  Just don’t confuse educated with “I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this in the shower.”
  • “If I were in their shoes….”  Let’s face it, if you were in their shoes you’d likely give you everything you want because you want it.  Looking at something from someone else’s perspective means divorcing yourself from your interests; it means really thinking about their interests in the situation, their wants, and their BATNA.  It is hard, hard work.  If you’re saying this off the cuff, you’re not likely thinking about it from their perspective; which means you’re providing yourself with a lot of false assumptions; which means you are working yourself up into a tizzy over not a whole lot.
  • “What a bunch of &%$^#@!”  Vent away, my friend.  Just don’t do it to the point you start believing what you’re saying.  Very few people are jerks.  Very few people behave purely from the motivation of being jerky.  If you’ve gotten to that point where you believe the other side is being a jerk for jerk’s sake, check in with someone else, take a handful of deep breaths and walk away for a bit.  You won’t do much productive if you stick around anyway.

What for to do, then?

  • BATNA. BATNA, BATNA, BATNA, BATNA.  You should really check your BATNA.  By the way, have you heard of this amazing thing called your BATNA?  It is BATNA-rific.  BATNA.
  • Seriously, BATNA.  How does what you’re doing line up with your interests?  Is it better or worse than your BATNA?  What does their BATNA look like?  Can you improve your BATNA independently from them?
  • Talk to a trusted third party.  They don’t have to understand your business, the deal or the other side (it’s actually better if they don’t); you just need to be able to trust them.  Express your frustration, the steps you’ve taken, the decision you’re grappling with and tell them in the most bold faced terms what you want out of the negotiation.  Then ask them what they hear.  Listen.
  • Ask for help.  Sometimes you can’t finish what you’ve started.  Sometimes you need someone else to come in and finish a deal.  Before you protest too much, I ask the following questions: If you were getting a divorce would you hire a lawyer?  If you were signing your first book deal would you want an agent?  If you were dealing with a medical problem would you talk to a doctor?  If you answered “yes,” you understand that there is benefit to asking someone for help.  If you answered “no,” back of the line.

May we all finish the week being our own best friends.  Good luck!

Categories: Self Awareness Tools

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