Quality Agreements CANNOT be built on win-win, trust, or ‘relationship’ – a negotation amusement park can be though.

Thinking In terms of building vision in a negotiation, what can we show or demonstrate to the other party? You can show respect. Can you show trust? You can show kindness. Can you show relationship? You can show a benefit of your product or service. Can you show win-win? defense? offense? The analogy with sports , also a human performance event, is illustrative. In football, you can show run and pass instead. Can you show offense? If you ask a football coach what happened on the field, he is not going to say ‘offense’. If a ball is intercepted, he is going to say ‘tackle!”. If as an excuse, his player says he thought he was still on ‘offense’ , anyone would call what he was saying absurd and pointless and not even worthy of a pee-wee player. We are in the realm of professional negotiation here, and we can’t even agree to talk about what really happens in a negotiation using relevant terminology. How did it come to this? I love blaming Harvard for it, but it has to be a deeper problem in our culture and psyches.

Sports talk radio is built on the discussion of terms that have a tenuous relationship at best to the reality of team performance. You hear words like like ‘chemistry’, ‘momentum’, getting ‘better’ here and ‘better’ there, then they start making their predictions/guessses about how things are going to play out. They don’t really say anything at all that is relevant to having a solid performance on the field. They are entertainers. Jim Camp called use of equivalent terms in negotiation (win-win, relationship) ‘mental masturbation’ , but that may sound too harsh to practioners. Call it entertainment, and feel good about it, but don’t call it relevant to valid preparation for a human performance event.


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