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Timing Is...

Alan Smith
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© Markus Gann / Shutterstock.com

Just back from a two-week holiday in Sicily. Beautiful country, never been before, recommend it. Although not in July. 34 degrees every day (bit like London!!) and an absurd 40 degrees if you go inland sightseeing.

You literally can’t do anything during the main part of the day, except sit in the pool with a beer (or another suitable beverage).

The locals of course have figured this out (mad dogs and Englishmen!) and time their days appropriately. Siesta, what a fantastic invention!

Another group of people who seem to have got a pretty good handle on timing are the French air traffic controllers. Over the summer months, and particularly at weekends, France’s 4,000 air traffic controllers have been engaged in a series of strikes to protest against staff cuts and a lack of up-to-date technology, blamed on a “lack of investment”.

Having sat on the tarmac for three hours before my flight back, I was cursing them for their having chosen that weekend to strike, but couldn’t help but congratulate them for their strategic selection of the dates which would have the greatest impact.

I always thought that the French were culturally and philosophically superior to us mere mortals (to my French chums faces anyway).

But great timing when dealing with conflict is not restricted to the French:

think about the English Tube drivers selecting the 2012 Olympic Games in London, threatening to strike over conditions; or the more mundane, but risky, act of waiting till the last minute to book your holiday/buy your car/book your wedding venue.

Timing can certainly work for you, but it can also work against you.

Consider the lovely story of a man, his wife and their four children, travelling to a seaside town on a British Bank Holiday, approaching the reception desk asking if they had a room for that night as the sunset approached.

“Yes”, said the manager. “In fact, luckily, we have just had a cancellation for a family room!”

“Thank goodness for that! We’ve been to every other hotel in town and they are all full,” said the man. “Any chance of a discount?”

Even if your timing is off, spotting the opportunity to negotiate, may not be.

Alan Smith
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