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Fighting Fires Without Burning Bridges

It’s always interesting to observe how we navigate through our lives when the waters are relatively calm and then when things are not ideal. Holidays and time spent with family and friends can sometimes showcase less than perfect people and relationships. How do you respond? Is finger pointing, pouting, arguing or avoidance the behavior of choice or default? How committed are you to your attitude and what will it take to shift your perspective to a place where interests vs. positions is the big picture approach.

The job search forces you to re-evaluate and modify behaviors that could sabotage your candidacy for an opening. Your ability to listen and advocate for yourself may mean the difference between a significant offer with benefits and a more lackluster proposal. When everyone is at the table with a clear intention to come to a satisfactory agreement, the outcome will likely serve those parties and listening is a key element.

I was recently reminded of the overused but simple to understand example of how we would be best served by listening and asking the relevant questions before we are embroiled in a tug-of-war battle. One updated version of the “orange story” is as follows:

“There was once only a single orange left in a kitchen and two prominent chefs were fighting over it. Time was running out and they both needed an orange to finish their particular recipes for the President’s dinner. They decided on a compromise by splitting the orange in half and retreating to their respective corners to complete the meal preparation. One chef squeezed his half into the special sauce he was making. It was not quite enough but it would have to do. The other grated the peel into the batter for his famous cake. It too was not quite enough but it would have to do.”

An improved solution may seem obvious to you now: both chefs would have been better off had they peeled the orange and taken the part they needed. Instead, each had focused on each other’s position (the what) and not on each other’s interest (the why).

What you focus on will affect the outcome of any negotiation. It is always good to ask yourself why you want what you want. This will help you get a better understanding of what your real goals are and could also open up better results for you.

We are always negotiating in the course of a day over issues and things both large and small. • Step back and listen • WHY do want what you want? • WHAT does the other person want? • How can you both be satisfied? • Remember the orange!

©2013 Maureen Weisner, All Rights Reserved

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