December 30th, 2010
These last few weeks have provided many lessons in Negotiation. First as an observer and then as an active participant. I watched several new people learn their first lessons in trying to fence with him, and in trying to assist one of them, became part of the scene. Bear with me and I’ll tell you all about what I ended up agreeing to do. So, what have I learned?
No wishing for more wishes. This seems simple enough, most of us remember Robin Williams’ genie quoting this to Aladdin. But in the heat of the moment, when you don’t have any better ideas. A blank check, while dangerous, seems simple enough. You must, however, remember to stipulate, that it cannot be cashed in for more blank checks, otherwise, a single scene at his whim becomes many more.
Don’t forget your limits. Not that you might forget your limits such as they are, but always remember to include them in a negotiation. Whether it is telling a new partner what your limits are, or stipulating that the above blank check(s) cannot violate them. It is all well and good to push your limits when you want to, but make sure you want to.
Be specific. At all points of the negotiation, be clear and precise. What are you offering, what are you getting, what are the terms and the rules and the boundaries. “Test me!” might be a fun thing for an excited student to shout, but it behooves one to specify what they want to be tested on. “School girl outfit” can mean different things to different people. “Skirts” come in many different lengths and styles. “Tied together” sounds fun, but do you really want to leave the binding material up to his imagination? Stockings, hose, fishnets, knee-highs, socks all very important distinctions in how much leg is covered or uncovered.
Offer something of value. Different people value different things from different people. Some people value sex. Some people value service. Some people value suffering. Some value the passing of knowledge. Learn what it is that will be of value and find ways to offer it.
Be creative and then be even more creative. Don’t offer things you have already given or things he already has. Offer something new, offer something bigger, offer something more interesting. Start with new and interesting offers, and then push them one step further. And don’t be afraid to make them well rounded – paint the full picture, not just the center of it. Bootblacking is good, but bootblacking while naked and kneeling is better, and bootblacking while naked and kneeling followed by some boot worship is even more interesting.
Don’t let other people negotiate for you. Stay in control of your side of the negotiation. Keep your wits about you and keep your mouth moving. If you want to be happy with what is agreed to, stay actively engaged in the discussion. Stick up for yourself and stand your ground when you have to. You do not have to agree to everything they say, keep seeking compromises that work for both parties. Unless agreements to the contrary are already in place, you can always say no, and most times even then.
Be reasonable and trust the other people in the negotiation. If you have a real problem with something, explain it, trust that they care about you and will listen. (If you don’t trust them or they don’t care about you, well, that’s another entry entirely.) Then, negotiate to find a way to make it work for everyone. Try not to just say no, that is impossible. Look for solutions that benefit everyone. Most problems are only little bumps in the road.
Be flexible and open minded. Understand that everything is not going to go the way you want it to. Understand that your definitions may not be the same as his definitions. Accept that sometimes comfort zones are meant to be left behind, it is how you can grow. I am incredibly curious, sometimes I have to let the curiosity override the fear.
Relax and enjoy it. Negotiation is where you get to learn about the other person. You get to see how their mind works, what they like and don’t like, how they feel, what their state is. You get to know them, and get to share yourself with them. You are not going to get it all right, but you’re not going to get it all wrong,either. But if you’re both/all happy when it is over, then everyone wins. Keep talking until you’re happy.
So, I promised to let you know what I got myself into. A new friend was starting a negotiation with him, and I was offering some advice. When he was presented with that fact, he suggested that since I was trying to help out, perhaps I should join the negotiation. Her fate and mine became intertwined. We spent most of the rest of the night negotiating. When it was all said and done, we had quite the scene lined up:
Three of us, dressed as school girls (clothing was one of the largest parts of the negotiation) – Japanese, American and British, respectively (I hear there may be a chalkboard hung high up on the wall for sentence writing). We may not say no for the entire night (creativity will be flowing). The evening will start with bootblacking, and we will be available at any time for massage. At his leisure, he may put us in the dog cage (with a violet wand kit nearby), or bind us all together (quite possibly with saran wrap, followed by ice and then hot wax). And at some point during the evening, there will be a Japanese song and dance (whaddya mean I have to dance when I’m sober?) in front of an audience of undetermined size (our voluntary third musketeer is joyfully plotting choreography to the song chosen last night).
It shall be a Very interesting evening. I can hardly wait.
What are you thoughts on Negotiation? What traps have you fallen into?