Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Some people think saying no is difficult and saying yes is easy. However, there are situations when we find ourselves often saying no. Take for example a parent responding to a child's requests. Another example that comes to mind is when we are in the process of negotiating for purchase, sale etc. In such situations, we find it difficult to come to an agreement. Only weak negotiators say yes easily. Most smart ones will try to extract their pound of flesh before grudgingly saying yes.
I read an interesting book called "Getting to Yes" a few years ago. The author describes the process of arriving at an agreement. He says that unless we want an aimless and endless discussion, we must strive to conclude the deal. My big take away from the book is that we should think win-win. If we are only thinking of our interests, we would find it difficult to strike deals. We also would have a lot of people with grouses against us.
Even as we prepare for a discussion, we should consider what the other party's reasonable expectations could be in addition to listing out our requirements. In our minds, we should think of a position which would be acceptable to both parties. When we are discussing each others demands, we should also probe / disclose possible reasons for our respective expectations. When we know why someone needs something, we can think of alternate ideas to fulfill the same.
I read a story of a girl and her brother who arrived home famished and both claimed a single apple that was in the fridge. In normal circumstances, they would have ended up sharing half an apple each. But when they discussed their requirements, it turned out that the girl only wanted the skin to bake a pie and the boy only wanted the flesh to make a milk shake. With this discovery, they both got what they wanted. Otherwise, they would have come to a sub-optimal solution.
When we think win-win, we are thinking solutions. Instead of being stuck in positions and appearing adamant, we are taking a step forward and looking positive. Everyone is happy with the outcome. Our gains and victories need not come with a loss or pain to others.