Sunday, October 22, 2006


"Problem is  not-knowing  how to get what you want. Bigger problem is not-knowing what you want."

When we objectively reflect on any frustrating experience, this is one of the recurring insights. This is how it typically unfolds. We have a situation to deal with in which we have some give and take with the other party. We rush into a dialog with them. We make some arguments. They make some. We come to some sort of agreement. There was also time pressure. So, we did not have a choice to defer coming to an agreement. When we retreat back to our den and spend a moment thinking about the whole episode, suddenly there is a surge of many things that we did not take into account - how the outcome would have been different. So, we end up sulking that we got a raw deal. Best example is when we make a offer on a house or a car and the seller accepts without a wink. We were expecting  a nice give and take and here we are getting what we wanted in the first place and we are feeling miserable. If we really got what we wanted then why do we feel miserable? Then the point to be pondered over is that we did not know truly what we want.

We have never been trained to treat negotiations as a scientific process. Recognizing this Harvard university started center for negotiations and conflict resolution. From there came best seller books like 'Getting to yes' and authors such as Fisher and Ury etc. BATNA - Best Alternative To Negotiated Agreement. Working out a BATNA before hand requires quite an amount of effort. But, it helps in zeroing in on what you want. Of course, the definition and clarity of what you want will become clear like anything else with progressive elaboration. Another way to qualify what you want to is make sure to clearly document how much time and energy you were willing to spend  and you could actually  spend on developing what you want. That way even if you later found out that a better alternative existed, you can take some relief that under given constraints and circumstances, all that you could do was to this definition of what you wanted.

There is another big benefit to spending time on developing complete picture of what you want. As you think more and more about what you want, you can see for yourself that a plan to how to go about achieving what you want conceives in your head and develops gradually. So when your definition to what you want is ready, it is very like that your mind will also deliver a decent plan to achieve the same. Isn't that nice deal?

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