Negotiating Tip #30:
Living Happily Ever After is Only in Fairy Tales
We at Mobus Creative Negotiating emphasize that the business world is not like social life – that in business, we have to be willing to press hard rather than to make nice. That said, there are some useful analogies we can make from daily life which shed light on the issues we face in business negotiating. One of those analogies is between our most important long-term social relationship – marriage – and an on-going business relationship with another company. Our point: both face challenges; only in fairy tales do we live happily ever after.
The usual story about romance and marriage is that the dating part was really good; engagement was nice; the wedding was great; and then honeymoon was a lot of fun. Then you start setting up house, and what do you know, we discover something about each other, namely, that we don’t see eye to eye on everything. Differences crop up. If you can’t resolve them in a productive way, the result can be cynicism, escalating conflict, and eventually profound unhappiness that can lead to divorce.
So too in business relationships. The most difficult skill is how to deal productively with differences, rather than the usual automatic response of “fight or flight” – that is, either confront the other side angrily or just go away unhappy.
It is unrealistic to expect that differences will resolve themselves on their own. So we need to raise differences rather than ignore them, but to raise them in a productive way by focusing on how can we move forward together rather than who is to blame for the problems we face. Future negotiating tips will discuss how best to handle differences: the point here is to expect differences, rather than regarding them as signs of failure.