Friday, March 28, 2008

Negotiating on Principle vs Position

We are constantly negotiating with our friends, spouses, colleagues, suppliers, customers etc. The old school - hard nosed way of negotiating where people take their position on issues and then wear the other side down is increasingly counterproductive. Negotiating based on principle is far more effective than Position based negotiation. i.e. if you really want to negotiate. If you are not interested in a fair or equitable result then of course negotiating on principle is useless.

Negotiating on principles is difficult because it makes you reflect on your motivations, ethics, morals, and facts-on-hand. Based on this you decide on a position in a negotiation. Laying out the principles before taking a position is essential, otherwise our egos make it difficult to make comprises. Taking a position in the beginning does not put the framework of compromise in place. But talking about principles allows the different sides in an argument to understand the motivations behind a request/claim.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A few weeks ago I was invited to talk at the National University of Singapore, to about 300 young students who were about to enter the university. Of course the theme was on careers and choices that people have. True to style, I changed my presentation completely minutes before I was to speak.
Some of the things that I focused on were
- you really do not need to know what you want to be when you grow up!!
What is much more important is that you know who you are.
- what drives you, what you excel at, what you are passionate about, and what success means to you?
Another aspect that surprised a few of the young attendees at the session was that each of us change with time.
The discussion then went towards what success meant to different people. We had a few answers from the audience, but the truth is that success means different things to different people. For those of you who come across this entry in my blog , do let me know what success means to you