Sitting opposite

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I’m in the middle of some negotiations. To be fair I am actually at the start. I won’t say what it is about as they are ongoing and wouldn’t want to jeopardise the outcome. That’s the way of negotiations, they are best done out of the glare of the public eye, not that that glare is too intense in this instance. In modern parlance I am bigging them up yet still they are very important to me and my colleague.

It started with an idea which was picked up by the business I am engaged with. They seemed enthusiastic about the idea and so I drafted a proposal which I sent to them. What I had written seemed reasonable to me (well it would, wouldn’t it) yet contained a number of things that needed to be buttoned down.

I wasn’t surprised to receive a reply to my mail though when I opened the document my heart sank at the amount of highlighted sections and challenges it contained. As I read them I sunk deeper and deeper into a depressed state, thinking that the issues raised were enough to call the deal off. Some of them didn’t make sense and others were contradictory.

Fortunately we had a meeting coming up to talk through the proposal and it was fair to say that I wasn’t looking forward to it that much. I shouldn’t have worried. When the meeting happened we were able to go through each point in an amicable and conciliatory manner, ending up agreeing on all the points raised, with acceptable amendments. All those things that had concerned me were easily explained away and much was down to my bad comprehension as their explanation.

Once again, as if I need it, this showed me the importance of face to face meetings. By sitting down in front of each other we were able to take the time to understand each other’s perspective, pick up on the nuance of what we were trying to convey and draw upon the good relationship that we had already built.

Electronic communications are vital to most businesses these days. They allow us to do so much more with our time than we could without. The temptation though, is to rush such communication in the name of efficiency and getting through the pile of stuff you have to do, which can lead to error and misunderstanding.

Humans are social animals and sometimes it is more productive to take our time in a social setting.

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