I my friend am a country duck.
My personal ride’s a pickup truck.
I drive that truck into the muckiest muck.
You probably think my truck gets stuck.

Do I slip and slide like a hocky puck?
Can I get unstuck from that mucky muck?
Do you think my prospects totally suck?
Do you hold out no hope for my pickup truck?

Is today the end of my run of duck’s good luck?
If I pull out of the muck, will you be thunder struck?
You know that the bull will buck and the chicken cluck;
But even for a super duck, this one is nip and tuck.

Are you putting your sawbuck on me staying stuck?
Do you think this duck’s a hopeless schmuck?
Do you think I’ll soon be calling Chuck’s high priced toetruck?
Do you think I’m getting so upset that I may just upchuck?

I’m seriously tempted to just shuck this truck.
I fear I may have finally run out of luck.
But Wait. If that bull can buck and the chicken can cluck,
Maybe I can figure out how to buck this truck.

Back and forth I buck my stuck truck.
It’s starting to get unstuck from that stubbern muck.
The muckity muck is losing it’s suck.
Away I go in my pickup truck.

I’m for sure one lucky duck.

Negotiations Preliminary Tips & Techniques

Negotiations – Preliminary Tips & Techniques

Being a good negotiator is a skill you will find useful in many situations. The skills you will develop will facilitate your being more effectively assertive, being a better problem solver, and being a better conflict manager. Developing the skills is sometimes tedious and requires a lot of practice. The payoff is both substantial and positive, though.

At first, it will be useful to move through the negotiation process in a step–by–step manner. With practice and experience, you will gradually get to a point where effective negotiating is second nature to you and is not something that requires a lot of detailed activity. At first, though, it is important to develop a negotiating plan and then seek out opportunities to practice. It is a little like learning to play the piano. Learning how is tedious and time consuming. Being able to play well, however, is a very satisfying thing indeed.


What do you want that I have, control, or can do? As odd as it may seem, this is frequently the step that inexperienced negotiators leave out. Very specifically, what do you want that I have? Here, we are talking about things, about concrete and tangible objects. What do you want that I control? Here we are talking about opportunities, resources, time, or other less tangible ‘things.’ What do you want me to do that I can do? Here, it is important to think in terms of things that anyone with my skills, in my position, and with my resources ‘can do.’ In very specific terms, what do you want from me?

With ‘it’ referring to what you want, can I actually give it to you? This is another point that amateur negotiators frequently overlook. What they want is something that the other person cannot, as a matter of individual choice, give to them. Perhaps other people are involved, maybe it is not something that the individual has the right or authority to simply give away, perhaps it is not something that the person can actually do, or maybe there are other factors that have to be taken into consideration other than simply deciding to give it to you. Under these conditions, simply negotiating with you is not enough, since I cannot simply give you what you want. Be sure that your negotiations are directed to the individual or people who can give it to you. Who all do you need to include in the negotiations? You should not leave anyone out.

Assuming I can give you what you want, under what conditions do you think I can give it to you? If you believe that I will simply give it to you without conditions, there is nothing about which to negotiate. Simply ask me and I will give it to you. Here, though, let’s assume that you think I will give it to you under some conditions. In specific terms, what are those conditions?

Under what conditions will you accept it – accept what you want – assuming I am willing to give it to you? Yes, you undoubtedly have conditions. Suppose you want to use my car for a week while yours is in the shop. It is my car, and I can let you use it. You think I will let you use it if you agree to take good care of it, bring it back with a full tank of gas, and you pay my bus fare for the week. Suppose my conditions are a little different, however.

I agree to let you use my car for one week if you agree to make my car payments for one year. You will undoubtedly say, ‘No way.’ The point is that you do have conditions. Under what conditions will you accept what you want if I give it to you?


A successful negotiation is a conditional transaction. We do business under certain conditions. If you are still in the game to this point, you have a clear statement of what you want, a set of conditions that you think I will have in doing business, and your conditions for doing business. Make a chart with two columns with the left column including a list of your conditions and the right column including a list of my conditions. Now, what are the points of convergence: conditions on your list and on mine? The more points of convergence there are, the further along the negotiations are going in. Your goal, of course, will be to reach a point where there is complete convergence, a point where the conditions on your list are the same as the conditions on my list.

What are the points of divergence: conditions that are on your list but are not on mine and conditions that are on my list but not on yours? Being careful to be very specific, now, make a master list that includes only our points of divergence, noting beside each point whether it is my condition or your condition. We will then negotiate our points of divergence.

As a central negotiating principle, keep in mind that you are never negotiating about what you want. That is a given and is actually nonnegotiable. If you did not want it, there is no point in pursuing it. We are simply negotiating the terms and conditions under which I will give it to you: our points of divergence. Amateur negotiators frequently fall into the trap of focusing on what they want. Skilled negotiators focus on the points of divergence: what we will call the transfer conditions.


What do you have, what do you control, or what can you do that would be of value to me? Look at my transfer conditions. You may use them as a guide for determining what may be of value to me in this particular negotiating situation. Make a list that includes what you can give to me in this particular negotiating situation. Make notation of why you think it would be of value to me. What benefits will I derive? What you give to me combined with the benefits I will derive from it represent the consideration you are offering in the negotiation.

As a summary point, you have determined what you want, have determined the transfer conditions, and now have determined what your consideration can be to induce me to follow through with the transfer. The stage for negotiating is set.

What are your negotiating limits? Review your list of consideration elements. Can you actually transfer control of them to me? What are the long and short term implications for you of making this transfer? Once you have considered the implications, revise your consideration list to include only those things you can give to me without jeopardizing yourself over time. This final list is what constitutes your negotiating limits: the maximum consideration you are prepared to introduce into the negotiations. At no point, and especially not during a specific negotiating session, should you go beyond your negotiating limits, no matter how tempting it may be. Yes, you may miss an opportunity once in a great while. The advantage to you is this: making an unexpected offer you cannot refuse is a game run by truly skilled negotiators. Assume that he/she is at least as skilled as you are and is not about to ‘give away the store.’ What seems like an unexpected prize will usually turn out to be something for which you will pay dearly and without the benefit of prior thought or analysis. As good negotiators say, ‘Never come to the bait!’

Importantly, following all of the above steps gets you to what you think will be the final outcome of the negotiations. You think you will get what you want, the full consideration I have to offer. You have also determined your negotiating limits: the maximum consideration you will offer. If you want, simply make your best offer on a take it or leave it basis. This is, of course, not negotiating. It is rather simply making a nonnegotiable offer. What should you do if you want to negotiate, though? Simply list the preliminary transfer conditions: the least you are willing to accept and what you believe – hope – might be the least I would accept in return. These then represent the minimum transfer conditions. If you have carefully completed your preliminary work as outlined above, negotiations may now begin.

Pass It Along

Pass It Along

“If you will think about what you ought to do for other people, your character will take care of itself. Character is a by–product, and any man who devotes himself to its cultivation in his own case will become a selfish prig.” –– Woodrow Wilson

As you think about what you ought to do for other people, passing your character along to your children and to other kids with whom you have contact is both a responsibility and an opportunity. Children don’t come into the world with their character pre–packaged. Rather, it develops and evolves through their early years. Character is learned and thus, is taught. Yes, some kids learn faster and more completely than others; but learn they do. William J. Bennett clearly understood this teaching/learning process when he said, “If we want our children to possess the traits of character we most admire, we need to teach them what those traits are and why they deserve both admiration and allegiance. Children must learn to identify the forms and content of those traits.”

First, do you know what character is and are you passing it on? It was passed on to you when you were a kid; and now it’s your turn. The youngster may live at your house, deliver your paper, be playing across the street, or just walk by; but pass IT on you do. Are you warm and gentle, friendly and accepting? If so, it feels like acceptance and being valued, inclusion and being important. If you are cold and indifferent, detached and suspicious, it feels like…; well, you know how IT feels. That is why you need to pass your character on very carefully, especially to young people.

When describing character, Abraham Lincoln said, “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Your responsibility is to guide and nurture the growth of the tree of character in your children so it casts a clear, stable, unambiguous shadow in the child’s world. Both the tree and its shadow need to incorporate the values, beliefs, priorities, and choices that you have passed on. This is, as Plutarch suggested, not an event but is, rather, something that builds, day to day. “Character is simply habit long continued.” The same point was also echoed by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The force of character is cumulative.”

Next, as you pass character on to your children, remember that you are the model. To be a great model, you have to walk the walk, talk the talk, have all the right moves, and amaze your fans. If you have kids or hang–around with someone who does, you have already got an enthusiastic following; and follow you they will. Given time, they will walk your walk, talk your talk, and your moves will be theirs. You are the model and they are your work–in–progress. How is your creation coming along? If you don’t have it quite right yet, it will help to know that you need to give more emphasis to being a better model for kids than to molding them. They will do as you do. As the famous Anon. reminds, “The acorn never falls far from the tree.”

. . . . .

As you think about what you ought to do for other people, passing your character along to your children and to other kids with whom you have contact is both a responsibility and an opportunity. Children don’t come into the world with their character pre–packaged. Rather, it develops and evolves through their early years. Character is learned and thus, is taught. Yes, some kids learn faster and more completely than others; but learn they do. This article shows you how you are key to their learning process.


I think we all know that things are constantly changing, whether or not we are paying attention to the changes. It may seem that everything is the same today as they were yesterday, but they aren’t. Even if we don’t notice, nothing is quite the same today as it was yesterday. Things change, people change, circumstances change, and we change too.

What this fact of life and living demonstrates is that change is a process and not an event. The outcome may appear to be spontaneous but never is. Fortunately, we can usually understand what happened if we stop to consider it carefully. Even if we don’t understand, we know that the change was a result of a process that is just not clear to us.

At times, we decide that we are not satisfied with the status quo and want things or circumstances to change. The change we want may be for us, our family, a specific relationship, our work team, our company or other organization, our community, or within any context where we think change is desirable or necessary. That is when we consider initiating the change process. We know we don’t like how things currently are, and we have a notion about how we would like them to be. Getting from where things are now to how we want them to be is an example of the change process that is always chugging away. For this change though, we intend to be the change agent.

Whenever you intend to be the change agent, there are twelve questions you should ask and answer before initiating the change process that leads to the change you want; and the bigger or more important the change is for you and for others, the more critical it is for you to ask and answer the twelve questions.

Here are the twelve questions. Answer each “Yes,” or “No,” in relation to the change process you intend to initiate. For these questions, “yes” is only “Yes” if you are quite sure. If not, the answer is “NO,” until you are sure.

1. Do you expect the change process to succeed, to make a positive difference?

2. Do you have a realistic vision of or perception of success – how things will be when the change succeeds?

3. Are you personally motivated by the likely payoff or outcome of the change?

4. Do you understand that – in the long run – it would take as much time and energy to maintain the status quo or current situation as it will to get the payoff from the change?

5. Are you prepared to take full responsibility for your participation and interaction throughout the change process?

6. Do you understand your active role and influence in the change process?

7. Do you understand and are you committed to what will be required for the process to succeed?

8. Are you confident in your ability to do what is necessary to realize the expected change?

9. Are you comfortable working with the others involved in the change process?

10. Are you looking beyond simple self–interest in the change succeeding?

11. Do you see each participant benefiting from his or her participation in the change process?

12. Are you being realistic about your ability, skill, and capacity to function effectively within the change process?

Did you answer “Yes” to each of the twelve questions? If so, you are good to go. If not, you would be well advised to give a little more thought to it be fore initiating the change process you are contemplating.

Now you know so there you go.


Ain’t technology grand? In days gone by, people who wanted to jot a quick thought or dash off a few lines reflecting whatever they had on their minds at the time, wrote on the backs of envelopes with pencils. The more fussy folks used pens with points, dipping them in actual ink. The technologically advanced used typewriters, although they were mostly secretaries, journalists, or really fussy folks who liked to show off. There were even a few who were sufficiently dedicated or perhaps compulsive enough to retain their musings in notebooks or even in bound diaries.

The jotters and dashers, the fussy folks and technologically advanced, along with the dedicated and compulsive are still among us, although they are far less recognizable. They no longer have the single–purpose props identifying them as writers. As a quick test of the point, when is the last time you saw someone under forty–years–old make a quick note on the back of an envelope or for that matter, use a typewriter?

My idea here isn’t to reminisce about days over and done, but rather only to set a contrast with today and what I assume to be magic. It was Arthur C. Clarke who said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,” and some of that advanced technology is where I am focusing.

Start with my computer. It is definitely not distinguishing, since most people I know have computers. You too are among the computer having group, since you are using one to read this post. Mine is sitting by my desk and has a keyboard and a mouse. Yours may be like mine or one of a hundred smaller and smaller iterations from laptops to iPhones. Nonetheless, we each have a computer. That fact alone, as commonplace as it is, is pretty amazing and warrants at least passing astonishment.

“We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology,” according to Carl Sagan. This is mostly true but also sort of not true. We know a lot about using technology, although few of us know much about the technology itself. Even so, you and I do know the smaller our computer is, the more we better hope it is still under warranty, if it breaks or quits working.

I am sitting here tapping buttons on my keyboard, believing, in a while, you will be there, wherever you are, reading this post. You likely do not think about me or how the words got to you – and there is no reason you should. You are ok with watching your computer screen, hoping it has something interesting for you. Even so, it seems we both have become a tad dependent on what may as well be attributed to magic, given that neither of us is likely to know much about how the words got from me to you.

Max Frisch had this to say about the magic, “Technology… the knack of so arranging the world that we don’t have to experience it.” The words do get from me to you and neither of us needs to experience the trip or much care how it happens, for that matter. It’s enough to know they went from my keyboard to Texas where this blog lives in another computer and then off to Twitter and Facebook, wherever they hangout. You started wherever you are and added the trip to you as the last leg of their journey. The coolest point is you and I connected, if but briefly. The highly improbable became fact.

Having given passing nod to the journey of the bits and bytes and the obvious magic in their trip, spending some time acknowledging what must be thousands of people who contributed to their successful arrival to you is tempting; but a post is a post, not a novel. However, they certainly each have their story. I trust it’s enough to simply say, “Thanks,” to the magicians.

Now you know so there you go.