So two guys (me and a mate) arranged to meet for a cheeky pint. Tony had a new job, something cool and mysterious to do with Bitcoins – it was his first day, having previously retired from his city job to become an international playwright; a move that was proving less lucrative than hoped. The date? Tonight! You can still be spontaneous at 50 something you know! The venue...Ye Grapes in Shepherds Market, Mayfair, a personal favourite.
I arrived early and waited for Tony to turn up. Poised ready to celebrate the moment, by buying an old chum a pint of the landlord’s finest. But then my phone buzzed - ‘I’m here’ he texted - ‘what do you fancy?’ – Damn I thought, he’s snuck into the pub without me noticing. This was supposed to be my treat.
‘Lager, icy cold’, I replied, (like me, having been standing outside for 20 minutes).
The next text from him proclaimed ‘Oh pants, I’ve got the beers but I’m at the wrong pub! Can you come to me?’
‘No, you come here’ I responded slightly tersely (and a little affronted) given it was supposed to be my shout and my venue!
The ultimate negotiator's challenge...my objective was to buy my friend a congratulatory pint in Ye Grapes. But he’d bought the beer?? And was standing in the Kings Head… as it turned out only 25 metres away! I went to him (and the beer) of course, but feeling a little deflated.
What do we do when we are negotiating, and the other side presents an alternative proposal that arguably is as good (or better) as our opening position, but challenges our carefully planned objectives? Most of us, I’m afraid to admit, stick to our guns (and our strategy) and reject anything to the contrary, typically without much consideration of their perspective (it’s my way or the highway).
Sometimes our perspective just needs a creative spin. An objective assessment of the situation and subsequent reframing of our ambition. Whilst it is difficult to step back from a position we have taken (and are holding firm on) it can open the door to a different but equally effective result. And one that suits both sides.
It is, I would concede, hard to do in the face of a tense negotiation. Easier in the face of friendlier fire. It’s what we call a more ‘collaborative style’. One where we try to look at life from our ‘opponent’s’ side of the table – and see it their way. But don’t see this as weak. Just smart. Evolution has taught us that to adapt is to survive and thrive.
And sometimes there’s an upside. I was credited with the initiative and got a Camden Hells (even colder than me) and a packet of pork scratchings! Went to MY pub for the second though…
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