The Power of Negotiation

It is inherent to my personality to take the words people say and use at face value. For all my work as a writer/author, I believe that people understand that each word they choose has meaning associated with it, and therefore, choose their words as carefully as I do mine in most situations.

I am finding, more often than not, that this is not the case as I employ the word “why.” Why do you think/feel that way? It’s not a combative word; it could be, with the right tone. This is a word of inquiry, of trying to understand what the person means rather than what they say. Say what you mean and mean what you say is a cliche because so few people do it well.

My point behind all of this is that I am realizing that life is about negotiation. By engaging in a dialogue, we open the possibility for deeper understanding. In more deeply understanding one another, we are more likely to “compromise” because we understand the other party’s terms. Compromise has gotten a bad reputation these last couple of years, or so it seems to me. According to Merriam-Webster, compromise is what happens when two or more parties make concessions to one another to reach an agreement.

Don’t we do this everyday? I want juice from the fridge, but my mother is pulling something from the freezer. I could push her aside, but rather, I wait, conceding that she was there first. My mother, realizing she is taking longer than is polite, concedes stands to the side pulling out additional ingredients. This gives me space to crouch beneath her and reach the fridge handle.

A simple example, to be sure. But there is something to it, methinks. As my peers and I venture into the industrial or academic realms, continuing our lives as professional adults, I feel we are all learning something in the form of negotiation. This could be professionally speaking, but also personally, as in my example with my mother. Negotiation is required for survival for nothing you ask for will be given to you freely. You must negotiate the terms and come to an agreement.

Why I felt the need to write this at one in the morning is beyond me. Thanks for indulging!

P.S. I have graduated from Indiana University with a Masters of Science in Informatics, specializing in Human Computer Interaction Design. If you’d like to see my thesis submission, check out my Flickr set. I took photos of the paper submission as well as the Blurb book I created for my personal copy.

2 thoughts on “The Power of Negotiation

  1. It is the posting of quotations like these that really makes me thing that you should go into a doctoral program. A program that would allow you to study socio-cultural systems. You would not only enjoy it but it would influence your personhood as well. You may want to look at the work of Hurgen Habermas and his discussion of intersubjectivity. Intersubjectivity would be a more appropriate term for describing what took place with you and your mother and would include not just the negotiated nature of the interaction but also the motivation for the interaction and the expectations as well. Habermas’ book on Knowledge and Human Interests is a good place to start and to progress from as you continue to think about these issues.



    1. Thanks Claudius, I can definitely see myself doing a doctoral program in a couple of years, perhaps after I’ve vetted the practice bug I’ve got going on right now. When you say socio-cultural systems, does this mean something along the lines of anthropology or sociology?

      I do feel my weakness as a researcher is not being “rigorous” enough in my understanding of intersubjectivity. I dabbled with it for my masters thesis, and found it fascinating. Thank you for the suggested reading, I’m on my way the library to pick up a copy.


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