Early in my career, I had a few good lessons that taught me about being fair in dealings of any sort.
When I worked in Europe after I graduated from college, my first boss had a wonderful expression when it came to negotiating a film contract. He would say we were starting out with "half a deal." And, sometimes we would leave the table with still only "half a deal" because a potential client did not accept the terms we wanted.
I came to realize that this phrase applied not only to business, but nearly all aspects of life, especially relationships. Thinking yours are the
only terms or the whole solution is like seeing the above reflection in the water. It's only an illusion.
We all have ideas of what we want out of life, but the problem is just that.
Everyone has his or her particular desires. Sometimes those of others coincides with ours and, most often, they don't. So, how do we get our way...our deal?
As youngsters, we might have cried or pouted, or even acted out with force. As adults, some still do...all three. But, hopefully, we have learned to negotiate and that's what I came to learn was the real lesson behind my boss's saying.
Start out with a thoughtful consideration of what you want and respect the fact the "other" has considered what he, she or their organization wants out of the deal.
That implies a respect for those with whom we're negotiating. And, having considered what we want allows for knowing the amount of give we have in our wants, as well as the point at which we're willing to leave the situation and move on to the next objective.
A second lesson came with working within a media conglomerate, when I moved to New York. I was put in charge of the division's biggest account, then, the biggest magazine in the world. As such, I, also, oversaw a plant that was dedicated strictly to that client's business.
When it came time to negotiate the yearly contract for that plant, the new president of my division was not sufficiently strong in asking for the terms I advised. Consequently, we took a loss of well over $30,000 that year.
We were amazed, then, when the client invited us for a luncheon and presented us a check for the amount of the loss, saying it was not in their interest to have a supplier lose money on their business.
That incident instilled in me a desire to always be fair in making deals, so all sides would prosper.
A third major lesson came about through a "deal" that I'm sure you'll think as weird as it certainly was to me. I was literally pulled into a situation in which I was asked to help a young woman...a stranger...who was threatened with abduction.
Quite bizarrely, her would-be abductor challenged me to a chess match...on one of those outdoor, life-sized boards. My surprise quickly turned to an ire that, even more quickly, turned into a determination not merely that I
would not, but
could not, be beaten. And, I shouted that out to my opponent many times during the match as, somehow acting beyond my competence, I took one piece after another.
But, never saying a word and sure to lose, my opponent would not give up. And, after a while, I began to respect such tenacity to the extent that, when my adversary was down to a pawn and a king, I said I was willing to call it a draw and walk away.
We both turned and left the board with me realizing that sometimes one can win without claiming a win...for the woman was left unharmed.
So, what's the takeaway here? What is to be the art of your dealings?
The first thing I want to say is that I learned the term, "It's just business," is a falsity. There's no separation between how one deals in commerce and in one's personal life. In my experience, one who betrays his/her familial vows will act the same in business and
My advice, therefore, is to always be fair in all your dealings. Learn to understand the needs of the other, as well as your own. Look for solutions that are mutually beneficial. Let all parties walk away from the table as winners. Not only will you become more successful as a person, but you'll sleep better.
Then, when a "deal" is offered
to you, you'll be better able to perceive if it is the way you would have patterned it. If it's not, be prepared to walk away. Again, you'll sleep better.