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.


From saying hello to bidding adieu,
Each post I write should include something new.
This simple fact is frustrating me some,
I think and I think but new does not come.

If fresh ideas and new topics around us abound,
Where is just one on which to expound?
I query my muse but she still remains mum.
I think and I think but new does not come.

For my one great idea I check Google and Bing.
Hit after hit but the bell does not ring.
I keep clicking the mouse until my finger is numb.
I think and I think but new does not come.

It should not be so hard to find something new.
Open my mind and let inspiration pass through.
I turn up the brain cells and refuse to be glum.
I think and I think but new does not come.

I talk to myself and then pace the floor.
I now hear Poe’s words, “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.'”
I shudder for fear my muse was struck dumb.
I think and I think but new does not come.

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.


I happened across this from Mark Twain, “There is no sadder sight than a young pessimist.” At first, these were merely words prompting a flash of truth but seeming not to stick, not to pass beyond the barrier we construct to protect us from painful truths. I moved on to read more words, this time from James Branch Cabell, “The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true.”

I had nearly managed to escape from Twain’s painful truth when Bill Vaughan nudged me back, “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” But what if the old year isn’t leaving? What if your world, the one where you are a young pessimist, is the best of all possible worlds for you? What if what you see is all you get, as good as it will ever be?

My desire not to look directly into the sad face of Twain’s pessimistic child is strong. If you too feel you have to look away, so be it. I understand. We can look away together, telling ourselves our optimism is a choice we make, a choice anyone can make, including sad children.

We look away together, even though Kin Hubbard reminds us, “Being an optimist after you’ve got everything you want doesn’t count.” It likely doesn’t count either when you only have most of what you want but have prospects, the possibility of a better world for you personally.

What if you are nine–years–old and failing school, only to be told it’s your fault since you don’t try hard enough, don’t pay attention, don’t follow instructions, don’t settle down and do your work? No, you are probably not specifically told it’s your fault but as you repeatedly hear the litany of what you don’t do, you hear the message – you get it.

What if you are five–years–old and chronically neglected and maltreated? You receive little to none of that tender loving care all children desire and require throughout their nurturing years? Perhaps your world improves for a few days or a few months but the bad times always return; they just keep coming back.

What if you are sixteen–years–old, being sexually used by people who are supposed to care for you, care about you? What if you are expected to fend for yourself at home, at school, in your community, with no help, no one to guide and support you? What if you are essentially on your own?

I could add to the list ad infinitum but if you don’t already get the point, your barriers are already too impermeable to permit a sad child to pass through to where you feel sad for him or her, feel nearly as sad as the child.

I don’t have a grand plan, insightful advice, or magical solution. Today, thinking about Twain’s young pessimist is just making me feel sad, holding my emotions, not letting me look away.


Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity. – Christopher Morley

You don’t get harmony when everybody sings the same note. – Doug Floyd

The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself. – Rita Mae Brown

Sticking to the high road can be quite challenging. Even so, the associated lessons all have two things in common. First, they usually are not particularly complicated. It certainly can sometimes take a while to get it; but once you do get it, the lesson is normally straight–up and to the point. Second, and here is the rub, the lessons invariably are a “So now you tell me!” kind of thing. Oh sure, hindsight is 20/20, live and learn, no one is perfect, and you are only human. Nonetheless, having learned your lesson is not much consolation once you have already missed important opportunities to stick to the high road. Yes, you may do better the next time; but your chance to get it right the first time has passed and will not return. Much better is to get it right, the first time, on time, every time.

It’s certainly true that no one is perfect, you are only human, and things only work out just the way you want them to in the movies. Life can be a real bear sometimes; but fortunately, you do not have to take responsibility for life. You are only on the hook for who you are and what you do. Here is a suggestion worth taking to heart. Start with developing a personal style that sets you apart, that lets everyone know that you are a class act. Think about people you know who stand out from the crowd, people who are certifiable class acts. They have three techniques down pat. First, they are originals. Their style and approach with people and situations are their trademarks. Second, they are not on–again, off–again. They are always uniquely themselves. Third, and here is the key: it is no accident. They usually make it seem easy and natural; but take a closer look and you will soon understand and appreciate how hard they work at it. They consciously and purposely do everything they do, with style, all the time, on purpose, one situation at a time, one person at a time.

Now you know so there you go.