I want to let everyone know that I am now blogging for the Camp Negotiation Institute. www.campnegotiationinstitute.com. There are a few of us blogging, including Jim Camp. Please join us, and make comments. Also, please suggest topics or pose questions you’d like answers to . Negotiation is a part of almost everything, so I can relate to pretty much anything you are interested in.
Archive for August, 2012
I have been a consumer of self-help books for a long time, but several years ago something made me wander over to the business section where I discovered Jim Camp’s book: No: The Only Negotiation System You Need for Work and Home. It may seem like a small thing, my choice to wander, but I think it merits some attention.
You see, I was like a lot of people. I loved the idea of being able to go alone – to be self-made. It just felt so right, beginning and ending with me, so comfortable. But what was really going on? I think I was afraid that if I asked someone for help that they would tell me no or try to help me in their way, not necessarily how I wanted them to help me. I don’t think I am alone with this fear. I think it drives people to the self-help authors and gurus. They keep raking in the bucks.
Do you remember that show from the 70’s, Laverne and Shirley? It had a character named Lenny. In one episode, Lenny got this jacket that really boosted his self-esteem. He told everybody that it said “Lone Wolf” on the back. I think he was trying to be like James Dean or something, a rebel against the world. But it actually said “One Wolf”. So everyone had a lot of fun with Lenny, and the more he tried to be the Lone Wolf without letting anyone help him, the sillier he looked.
Aren’t you glad that you and I NEVER act this way?
So I think I was channeling my inner Lenny the day that I wandered from self-help section to the business section. I was thinking I was the Lone Wolf, but I suspected that I was missing something, like he was missing the letter ‘L’.
Wandering alone and hoping for answers makes sense when you’re lost. Self-help will hand you a map. It may work, but it also may be the wrong map for that territory. You will still be alone. CNI will not send you off on your own. They will go with you for as long as you want them too. They have maps, the best around, but they will teach you to negotiate your way when maps aren’t readily available, and you will be in the very best position to consistently make progress that you have ever been in.
It can be hard to accept that you are often not THE decision maker in a lot of circumstances. Let me give an example from my role as a Dad. I get my two younger girls ready for their day care in the morning. They have been pushing for me to allow them where open-toe sandals. It is against the rules at their day care, but they insist that their friends are doing it. I say no. They get upset the way little kids do – tantrums and whining. It brought a lot of aggravation for the last few weeks to the morning routine. I stick to saying no, and almost every morning is a battle.
I like to see myself as THE decision maker in this situation. But in reality, these kids have other decision makers in their lives – their pre-k teachers. They have not been enforcing the rules on sandals lately, and my girls see this, and they want to take advantage. So now it becomes clear what I ought to do – bring this to the other decision makers. Obvious – right?
So it all worked out once my vision of the real problem became uncluttered. I kick myself a little bit, though, because if I had sat down after the first tantrum and systematically looked at the negotiation I was in, I would have easily identified that I was not THE decision maker. Instead, my emotions got the best of me. I saw myself as THE DAD, THE DECISION MAKER, and I told myself that if they respected me, they would accept what I said, and that if they didn’t respect me, they would eventually learn to respect me because I was not going to give in. I got caught up.
See how emotions made me blind to something that would be so obvious to an outsider looking in?
I am sure many parents would have picked up on this right away, but let’s face it, we all have our blind spots. I think we all could benefit from having at our fingertips a systematic way to expand our vision as efficiently as possible to compensate for the blind spots that lead us to do harm to our loved ones.
I had the system at my fingertips and failed to use it! Sitting down and thinking about this situation through the lens of negotiation seemed like overkill to me. I was so wrong. I squandered needless time, energy, and emotion. My wife even went out and bought closed toe sandals for the girls, but they were still not satisfied! What satisfied them was my respecting their right to say no to me and letting them make their case to the alternate source of authority. Their teacher apologized to me for the inconsistent enforcement of the rule, and in a gentle and firm manner, told the girls they had to follow the rule. They accepted the decision very graciously and respectfully.
So here is the mistake I made: I thought I had this covered. How could I not? I am a sensible guy and a good guy.
I did not have it covered.
I want you to avoid this mistake, but if you are anything like me, it will be VERY hard for you to admit when you are making it, and even harder for you to accept what you will have to do to correct it.