Monday, April 5, 2010


Growing up in my family, the only real shared tradition was something that happened on Sundays called "Bloody Mary Morning", inspired by the song of the same name. It was pretty cool and allowed for a lot of observation of adult behavior that I found to be entertaining and sometimes funny and gross all at the same time. Some examples would be my uncle Jerry removing his false teeth on command, my grandfather telling stories that involved gun purchases made in parking lots in Mexico, and political discussions that were neither stimulating or progressive. I had not thought about these Sundays in a long time, but now that I have a Sunday tradition of my own I was reminded of the good old days (wink wink).

For the better part of a year, every Sunday morning/early afternoon I have been going to eat Dim Sum at this really authentic place here in Austin. I know that Austin TX and Chinese Dim Sum may seem like an incongruous marriage, but I assure you it is super tasty, really authentic and my new favorite tradition. I go with my boyfriend and sometimes other friends. My boyfriend and I are both super busy types so it's really cool that we have this immovable thing that we do on a weekly basis. We both feel very protective of it and if work/social obligations threaten it's occurence we both get very anxious. I know this may sound dramatic, but we both take food pretty seriously, for reals.

The other thing about having something that you do at certain times regularly is that it starts to give those interactions more meaning. The people that run the restaurant where we go for Dim Sum know us now and we have conversations with them and look forward to seeing them. They make suggestions for us, allow my boyfriend some space at their counter for him to leave postcards promoting a show he put on during SXSW and in this way become a part of our lives. I mean, I am not saying that if I were in jail or something I would call Yen from T and S Seafood to bail me out, but it's a big world with room for all kinds of relationships.

So, thank you Dim Sum and my boyfriend and my friends for helping me start my own tradition that I look forward to every week and that does not involve anyone removing false least not yet.


The following comes my way via Penelope Trunk's awesome blog (find it in the links section). I am generally wary of systems that advise a one way approach to matters as subtle as negotiating, but I like the BATNA idea in particular and it allows for flexibility. I think that women in business are faced with very specific challenges when it comes to negotiation practices. We are taught from a young age to please/placate and there is also the matter of our biology. We are wired to caretake and this can sometimes make negotiating challenging. In my line of work I am negotiating on behalf of my clients everyday and each situation is so unique, but I do think that being armed with some clearly defined strategies is a leg up---no matter what your gender! I hope you find this information as compelling and useful as I do.

Penelope writes:
So I was excited when I had the opportunity to interview the author of Getting toYes, William Ury. He's director of the Global Negotiation Project at Harvard, and his new book is The Power of a Positive No: How to Say No and Still Get to Yes. Here are his five best tips for doing well in negotiations.

1. Take a break.
Ury calls this "going to the balcony" in order to get a big picture handle on what's going on so that you are not getting too worked up over irrelevant details. He says, "When we negotiate when we're angry we give the best speech we'll ever regret."

2. Know your BATNA.
This is negotiator-speak for "best alternative to a negotiated agreement." That is, if you have to walk away, what's the best you can get? This tells you how much power you have in negotiations. The person who needs the agreement the least has the best BATNA and the most power.

3. Put yourself in the other person's shoes.
Ury describes negotiation as an exercise in influence. "You need to change someone's mind, so you need to know where they are right now." This means listening more than talking. And the first question to ask is Why. You will hear their needs, but you need to know the underlying cause for the need. For example, if your boss wants you to work a 16-hour day. To negotiate with your boss, you need to understand why – what needs to get done in those hours. Maybe you can get it done a different way.

4. Learn to say no.
"In order to get to the right deal, you need to be able to say no to the wrong deal. Saying no is fundamental to the process of negotiation."
Tip from the department of great-if-you're-him: Warren Buffet once said that he doesn't understand "getting to yes" because he just says no until he sees a perfect yes. Buffet says you only have to give four or five great yes responses in his work in order to be a billionaire.

5. Be clear on your values.
For those of us who might not see a perfect yes, deciding on no is more complicated, and we have to be really clear in our own minds about what we value and what we need. Sometimes a no is surrounded by a deeper yes. For example. You say yes to the values, no to the tactics and yes to going forward. Ury calls this a positive no. But he warns that if you're in doubt, then the answer if probably no.

What I take away from Ury is that good negotiation is a combination of good self-knowledge and good people skills. And, not surprisingly, this is the combination that gets you a lot of things in life.

There are opportunities in each of our lives to practice negotiations constantly – even, as Web Worker Daily points out, in email. You can do it with a spouse, with a boss, with your neighbor who doesn't clean the yard. The better you get at the small stuff, the easier the big moments of negotiation will feel.