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A Grateful Perspective

Brian Buck
231120 Turkey
© Scotwork NA

On my desk there’s a small note containing three daily reminders that help me maintain perspective on the world and the people in it. I’m grateful for these, so I thought I’d share them with you ahead of your Thanksgiving. And since these posts are about negotiation, I’ll also relate them back to how they could impact a negotiation.

Everyone has hidden value — find it.

Unless they’re braggarts, most people don’t walk around touting everything they’re capable of. I think that would be really annoying. However, we tend to overlook the value that other people bring to the table because we allow their jobs, roles, or titles to define it for us. But if you spend a little time getting past those labels and get to know the person, you’ll find they usually have a lot more to offer.

In a negotiation, the same is true of the people participating. We assume their value based on their role, but they frequently bring more to the table when given the opportunity. Maybe they can help influence a deal or move it forward. Maybe they’re really good at the details or helping simplify complex concepts. Whatever the case, spending time to understand everyone’s hidden value can be valuable to the deal. 

Everyone has a unique perspective, experience, and wisdom — listen to it.

For decades, we’ve become more partisan: We’re losing our ability to share and discuss our ideas. Civil discourse and debate are rare. We’re quick to judge and associate with like-minded people instead of surrounding ourselves with people who challenge our thinking. Therefore, we live in single-minded thought bubbles and deny ourselves the riches of a broader view. Imagine how much conflict could be avoided if we just took more time to listen to and understand each other.

Everyone walks into a negotiation with a view of what they would like and how they think they can get there. However, people get so wound up around how to get there that they lose sight of what they want. Negotiators can get tunnel vision and forget that the other side also has a view of how the negotiation should go. Therefore, instead of wasting time defending an approach, invest that time in learning the other side’s point of view so you can find a more expeditious way to get to what you want. Assuming it’s legal, ethical, and moral, do you really care how you get to the outcome you want? Probably not.

Your world is smaller than you think — treat everyone in it well.

Early in my career, I got hired for a job and found out I almost didn’t get the job because I was dismissive of the guy at the front desk. That was embarrassing and, needless to say, I spent a lot of time making it up to him. I wish I could say that was the only time, which is also embarrassing. Look, I’m not perfect and there’s a reason why I have this note on my desk to begin with, but showing kindness and respect has taken me further than other approaches.

One of the biggest fallacies about negotiation is that you have to be aggressive, demanding, and show no mercy to your opponent. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, most of our negotiations are with people we have to work with every day! So, why on earth would anyone treat someone in a way that would only damage the relationship? You know you’re good at negotiating when you craft a deal that everyone can support and build a stronger relationship with the other side.

For this Thanksgiving, I hope you can stop, reflect, and give thanks. Maybe take a little time to listen to someone new, or learn something new about someone in your life, or just take a breath and show a little more kindness at a time where it would be easier not to. 

Thank you to all who read and share these posts. I really appreciate it. Happy Thanksgiving.


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