Interests and Positions

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    If you merely assert what you want when you negotiate, you’re bound to get mediocre results. Uncovering the motivation behind people’s demands, however, often leads to elegant, and more effective, solutions.

18 responses to Interests and Positions

  1. D. Lite says:

    Dear Richard,

    Your post is an important reminder to understand the “why” behind the “what”.
    Which leaves me wondering “why” I didn’t get a gift from your trip to India?

    D. Lite

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks for writing, Mr. D. Always nice to hear from you. As far as your gift, what can I say…there’s only so much room in the suitcase.

  2. Gail Packer says:

    Brilliant, Richard. Simple yet elegant. You captured the essence of this lesson so well. P.S. academy-award winning! great use of video to convey this message.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks for writing, Gail, and glad you found the video useful. As far as the award, what can I say. “I’m not worthy!” ;o)

  3. Linda Katz says:

    Hi Richard,
    Great message. Applies to work and personal life pretty much everyday!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Hi Linda. Good to hear from you. And yes, the benefits of finding out why people want what they say they want is very widely applicable. As useful at home as at work (though sometimes harder to apply)! Thanks for writing.

  4. Karen says:

    Hi Richard, I didn’t know you were in India last year…
    I enjoyed your story and the beautiful artifact (as well as the photo, of course), which offered a concrete/easy-to-remember example of stance and motivation. As an overly trusting, former Wisconsinite, I sometimes forget to delve into the “why?” behind the “what.”

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      So nice to hear from you and delighted you enjoyed this issue Karen. India was fascinating.

      Quite apart from how much you do or don’t trust your counterpart, finding out what’s motivating them–and sharing your own interests–can lead to better solutions and make you both more satisfied.

      So now I understand: You are from the “trust” belt!

  5. Anna Maria says:

    Thank you I needed that! I remember the last video being very poignant and applicable to me currently. Take good care.
    Anne Marie

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Glad that you are finding these videos useful, Anne Marie. That’s my hope!

  6. Lee Rush says:

    Spot on! Keep them coming. Not only did I get your message, I loved the format. Short, concise, prop-supported, illustrative story, colorful shirt, nice family picture in the background, liked the capstone picture at the end. You’re on to something.


    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Thanks, Lee! I really appreciate hearing from you. I particularly like the shirt. Love that green…

  7. Belinda Hopkins says:

    Hi Richard – I love the idea of using short films like this to share your message. you put the ideas over well and with authenticity.

    One comment I would make is the possible misunderstanding in the phrase moving from the ‘what (we want) to the why (we want it)’. Folk may think they get to this by using the word ‘why?’ and it may be helpful (and maybe you do this in another film?) to suggest a few starter phrases for getting to the ‘why’ without actually using this word itself , which can sometimes seem accusatory .
    Helping people surface their thoughts, feelings and needs around an issue (or a box!) is so key, as you suggest.
    Keep up your good work.

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Great, great point, Belinda. Yes, although uncovering interests, the “why,” is so important, asking one’s counterpart directly “Why do you want that?” is not always the best way to get there. As you write, under certain circumstances it will just make them defensive. Timing, tone of voice and context are all important. I plan to address this in a future issue. Thanks so much for sharing this insight!

  8. Kristen Woodward says:

    Again, very well done! As I was listening to the clip, I was thinking about the willingness to divulge ‘why’ you want or don’t want something. As you know, it’s tricky for adults since we try and protect ourselves (whatever that may be). I will use this clip in my trainings!

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      Good point, Kristen, and see Belinda’s comments above. You are on a similar page.

      And I agree…just because we ask our counterparts about their interests, it doesn’t mean that they will share them with us. There are risks to revealing what is important to us: Chief among them is that others could take advantage of us once they know what we “really” want.

      There are ways to guard against this, not the least of which is working to establish a strong working relationship as discussed in the previous post. More to come in future issues. Thanks!

  9. Elissa Magnant says:

    What a nice surprise to my busy day of practice to open this helpful and positive email. I look forward to your next one! Truly appreciate it, Elissa Magnant

    1. Richard Cohen says:

      That’s great to hear, Elissa. Thanks for writing!

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