Tuesday, October 8, 2013

On Negotiation

In my working life I have held executive sales positions dealing with high tech products. In these positions I was a part of many negotiating sessions. I have even had occasions where my customers have asked me to handle negotiations with their customers for them. I never was of the opinion that my negotiating skills were anything exceptional but they seemed to be at least adequate to the need of the day. Over the years I have learned a few thing about this, less than arcane, art.

If you are looking for results it is best not to run around shouting "I will not negotiate". You look foolish when it finally dawns on you that you may have to come to the table. It is best to not publicly insult and excoriate your opposition. Talks go much more easily if you can walk into the room with a smile on your face reaching out to shake hands. That tells the other side that although you want as much as you can get, in the end, you are a gentleman.

In negotiations there are no winners. If you are looking for a win, go play tennis or something. If negotiations are successful, both sides walk away from the table feeling that the other side won, but at least you got enough so that you can hold your head high and give the opposition a final handshake.

In government, when you try to rule like a Saudi king, you are wrong. There are two sides and a middle in the American citizenry. They all have valid views. Those view may not be your's but they are still valid. They deserve a hearing. The loyal opposition in government is actually more important than the majority. That is because they have the difficult and endless job of restraining the leadership from excess. But whether the President likes it or not, that is their job.

What makes that job even harder is that today's opposition is over run with appeasers. The loyal opposition must stand strong and unified. That is something Republicans seem incapable of understanding. Maybe the leadership is not strong enough or ruthless enough to get the kind of singularity of action that is second nature to Democrats. They get their daily talking points and that is the gospel of that day.

I just finished reading a book about Owain Glndwr. He was the last Welch born Prince of Wales. He lived around the start of the fifteenth century. He wished nothing more in life than a free, peaceful, and independent Wales. Three English kings, a Richard and two Henrys,  took exception to his desires. While Owain offered to negotiate, the Kings would not. They would accept only total capitulation. Owain knew he was right to stand firm for Wales. He never did get his free Wales. The odds were too much against him. The strife that was caused, cost thousands of lives on both sides. The financial cost was devastating. But because he took a solid stand and stood by it in deep adversity, he is remembered as Wales greatest Prince.  And those are my thoughts on negotiations.

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