Life Is What You Negotiate

Life shows up for me as a negotiation beginning at birth and continuing to death. Before you contest my assertion please consider what I mean by negotiation. Negotiation is “Any communication that is designed to influence and persuade.” Bruce Patton, Harvard Negotiation Project.  Immediately upon hearing this a whole world of possibility opened up for me. It was as if somebody showed me something that was before my eyes the whole time. It put things into focus.

I realized that I started negotiating with my mother immediately upon my birth. Why does a baby cry? To express it’s state of being and I would also say to let somebody know its need; to persuade somebody to feed it, cloth it, change it, hold it, etc.
Just think about all the negotiations that you are involved in throughout your life. I have purposed my life to study the art and science of personal and social transformation. The key competency is the skill of negotiating. When a person is seeking to transform themselves and or their family, business, church or community service organization they are seeking to persuade and influence themselves and others toward the state of being and action they desire. This process is more complex than most people realize. Generally it requires a keen ear, potent imagination and courage to speak to the issues that are at the heart of the situations they find themselves in.

Anything that involves human being working together requires the art and science of negotiating. We are all negotiating every day, some of us more consciously than others. Whenever I am training an individual or group and open with this conversation inevitably the question that always seems to come to the surface is, “But Dan, aren’t you talking about manipulating people?” I would say, “Not in the way manipulation is used today, I mean persuading people. Much like your question begs me to be persuaded that negotiating is manipulation (The phrase “are you talking about” directly implies that negotiating is manipulation). In fact, negotiating is a manipulation of words, mood, tone, posture, facts, etc. to influence or persuade God or people to a certain outcome, even if that outcome it is simply to enjoy one another on an afternoon walk.”

We are all familiar with the high profile negotiations on Wall Street and It is interesting to note how even in the Bible all the negotiating that went on between man and God. From Moses and Lot negotiating on the behalf of Israel to Jesus negotiating in the garden to be released from his crucifixion!

What if life wasn’t fair, but what you negotiated it to be?