Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Dissent, disagreement, compromise and consensus 1 – building a framework for creative and openly engaging collaboration and trust

Two of the recurring topics of this blog are communications and negotiating. And I have been addressing both of them, and on an ongoing recurring basis here from this blog’s beginning. I decided early on to explicitly discuss the issues and at times challenges of communications in this by now extended overall narrative, and in a detailed and structured manner. So along with touching upon more specialized issues related to that skills set, I have also developed and offered more comprehensive discussions of it too. See for example, my series: Communicating More Effectively as a Job and Career Skill Set (as can be found at Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development – 3, postings 342-348.) I initially offered that in a more explicitly jobs and careers development context, as shows in its series title. But I have also cited that progression of postings in a wider range of contexts too as communications practices: effective and otherwise, shape businesses as a whole and drive their success and failings. With that noted, I have to add that I have addressed the issues and challenges of communication’s cousin: negotiating, very differently.

I have in fact touched upon the issues of that skill set a great many times in the course of assembling this blog up to here. But I made an early editorial decision in doing so, not to offer a more comprehensive how-to discussion of negotiations or negotiating as a whole here, as I have with communications, as for example in my above-cited series on that topic. Quite simply, there are a significant number of excellent “how-to” books on negotiating and I had a couple of them in front of me on my desk as I started addressing that set of issues at all, in my blog. But I saw a paucity of professionally oriented literature on communications out there, at least as I saw need to address its set of issues in the overall flow of my business and technology narrative here. So I set out to write my own on that.

I come back here to the issues of negotiating in this series, and with a goal of at least selectively offering a more comprehensive and organized discussion of this vital topic too: one that is more like my above-cited business-oriented communications series. But that point noted, I begin by reoffering my basic how-to references on this, as already cited in this blog:

• Ury, William. (1991) Getting to Yes: negotiating agreement without giving in. Penguin Books.
• Ury, William. (1993) Getting Past No: negotiating in difficult situations. Bantam Books.
• Ury, William. (1997) The Power of Positive No: how to say no and still get to yes. Random House.

No, these are not the newest works out there on this topic. But I still recommend them for their practical wisdom and insight and for their direct hands-on advice.

And this orienting background note brings me to the key question that I would raise and at least begin to answer in this, the first installment to a new series on negotiating. What will I at minimum discuss here in this series? And I begin offering my answer to that by making note of a basic orienting principle that underlies all that will follow here:

• When you have to deal with others, that always means entering into conversation with them, whether verbally or in writing or by some other means. And when this flow of interaction means communications that last any significant period of time, that means you’re having to enter into at least some negotiations with those others too, and on at least some of the issues and questions that arise.

Assume this point as a given, and even as an essentially axiomatic truth as it is all but certain to prove valid and on an ongoing basis for you. Negotiations may be low-key and relaxed in nature and even most of the time for you, but they do happen and even if they are. Think of this series as a selective guide to help you carry out these negotiations more smoothly and effectively – and for both simpler negotiations and for their more complex and emotionally laden counterparts too.

And as this is a series in a jobs and careers oriented directory in a business and technology oriented blog, I will focus at least to begin on a progression of contexts related to that general subject area. Then I will address more specifically business process contexts per se. And I will, of course discuss at least a few negotiations contexts that arise in both of these arenas: at the more individual and at the more overall organizational levels. With that noted, I proceed to outline something of what I will be more specifically addressing in this series, starting at the level of individual job and career planning and execution:

1. A job search leading up to your applying to specific positions at businesses that you would definitely want to work with, and with the conversations and negotiations that that process entails.
2. Job search as it plays out when reaching out to and applying for specific work opportunities of real interest to you, with this process continuing on through terms of hire and employment negotiations.
3. Negotiations as take place during the initial probationary period as a new hire.
4. Ongoing negotiations as you navigate your way through the workplace as an established employee there, and as you seek to create opportunity for best possible next career steps for you. This mean more effectively working with peers who also work as members of the functional team that you are a member of, you’re working more effectively with your own supervisor there, and you’re working more effectively with wider ranges of other stakeholders too.
5. Negotiating with subordinates who report to you, and both for the how and the why of this.
6. Problems such as misunderstandings and disagreements and related challenges enter into here too, and in anticipation of discussion to come this means addressing issues and not personalities, and it means not making the discussions that arise here into anything like personal attacks. (I will come back to this set of issues later in this series when I consider the challenges of negotiating with difficult people.)
7. Negotiating change in your job and in your terms of employment comes next. And preparing for and negotiating a possible promotion enters in here too, though my goal for this to-address point is to consider more wide-ranging possibilities than just that, here.
8. And at least for now, in assembling this list of to-address points, I conclude my jobs and careers portion of this anticipatory note by including grievances and yes, negotiating terms of severance if they become necessary. Note: I did say above, that I would address more challenging and emotion freighted negotiations contexts here too.

After completing this list of to-address points and any others that I would add to it, I will turn to consider negotiations as they enter into the strategic and operational context in a business, and when dealing with external stakeholder to it.

I will begin addressing all of this in my next installment to this series, starting with Point 1 from the above numbered list. Meanwhile, you can find this and related material at Page 3 to my Guide to Effective Job Search and Career Development, and also see its Page 1 and Page 2. And you can also find this series at Social Networking and Business 2 and also see its Page 1 for related material.

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