Cross Purposes

Published: Nov 08 , 2012
Author: Alan Smith

My friend's wife found out that her dog (a Schnauzer) could hardly hear, so she took it to the veterinarian. The vet found that the problem was excessive hair in the dog's ears. He cleaned both ears, and the dog could then hear fine.

The vet then proceeded to tell the lady that, if she wanted to keep this from recurring, she should go to the store and get some "Nair" hair remover and rub it in the dog's ears once a month.

She went to the store and selected some "Nair" hair remover.

At the register, the pharmacist told her, "If you're going to use this under your arms, don't use deodorant for a few days." She said, "I'm not using it under my arms."

The pharmacist said, "If you're using it on your legs, don't use body lotion for a couple of days." She replied, "I'm not using it on my legs either. If you must know, I'm using it on my Schnauzer."

The pharmacist says, "Well, stay off your bicycle for about a week."

A report in today's news suggests that ministers and scientists should swap roles so that scientists understand the way that politics operates, and politicians understand how scientists work. This is so that they can be both more effective when negotiating and developing new initiatives. Politicians are fearful that scientists operate in a bubble, scientists sneer at the politicians lack of rigour. 

Speaking the same language or at least being able to understand the other side is crucial for the negotiator who is looking to find a solution that works. That means one that both sides can live with.

If you are a seller you need to understand how the buyer works, what defines success for them, how that will be measured and what makes them look good in their organisation. The same is clearly true the other way round.

Too many of us walk into our dealings with others without recognising that whilst we live in the same world our perspective on it may be very different indeed. Confusion, frustration and deeper conflict will be the result.

Understanding that difference is time very well spent.

Alan Smith, Partner


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Alan Smith
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Tommy Cooper was one of the funniest comedians ever. How do I know? Well partly because he has 13 of the best jokes in the top 50 gags of all time. A personal favourite being, “heard the one about two aerials meeting on a roof, falling in love, and getting married? The ceremony was rubbish but the reception was brilliant”. Telling a good joke is not just about the content. It is also in the timing of the delivery. The same could also be said about negotiation. Picking your time to enter into a negotiation can have a significant impact on its progression and your outcome.

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