You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else. ~ Winston Churchill
A reader who happens to know how I voted in the last Presidential Election (see here) challenged me to come up with some positives about the Trump administration. Reflecting on how quickly I was able to come up with a list (of positive things), I couldn’t help but think about how different business is than current day politics. That is, in politics these days it seems all too easy to allow personal feelings about the other side get in the way of getting work done. On the other hand, let personalities get in the way in business, and you’ll have a hard time achieving goals.
On any given day at the office, it won’t be long before you’re forced to work with someone you may not like or respect. Indeed, I think we’d all agree there is nothing like the dreaded combo of incompetence and douchiness to make for a difficult day. Nevertheless, regardless of how you feel about that person, provided it doesn’t compromise your values:
If you are in a leadership position, it’s your duty to figure out how to set aside personal differences for the sake of those who depend on you.
That’s easier said than done for sure but, with some practice and training, it’s a skill most of us can acquire. A great place to start is the seminal book by Roger Fisher and William Ury, Getting to Yes, a product of the Harvard Negotiation Project. While the book doesn’t cover all aspects of bargaining, it does provide strategies for arriving at mutually acceptable agreements without getting angry or exploited.
The major principles of the book are:
- Separate the people from the problem.
- Focus on interests, not positions.
- Invent options for mutual gain.
- Insist on using objective criteria.
You may be asking: What if the folks on the other side are more powerful, won’t play, or use dirty tricks? Although some of their answers to the above questions are frankly naive, the book has an entire section under the heading “Yes but…” that provides suggestions for dealing with these difficult situations.
A reader recently asked me what I thought about the border wall. I’m not going to step into that argument but I definitely feel the folks involved in the negotiation could have benefitted from the book; especially, since a score of one for Trump doesn’t mean minus one for the Democrats (or the country). To those who would argue the respective party’s positions about the wall makes an agreement impossible, I’ll leave you with the following line from the book:
Behind opposed positions lie shared and compatible interests as well as conflicting ones. We tend to assume that because the other side’s positions are opposed to ours, their interests must be opposed.
Before checking out for the week, I wanted to add some music to our Manufacturing Peace of Mind™ Spotify playlist. Here then are the Monarchs with their song “Come on and Move Me.”
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Having said that, I am interested to hear from you. Good, bad, or otherwise, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m the only person who will read your email and, as time allows, I’ll do my best, at a minimum, to personally acknowledge receipt.