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Publications > Dateline Houston > October 2002 > Director-Sponsor Report


Volume 42, Issue 3

November 2002

Letter from Linda
Do Your Negotiations Work?

by Linda Oestreich, Director-Sponsor, Region 5

Colleagues, I recently attended a class to help me learn negotiation skills. One of the new phrases I learned was BATNA, which means best alternative to a negotiated agreement.

For example, you are ready to buy a new car, but just canít get the deal you want. Whatís your BATNA? You can continue driving your old wreck, you can walk, you can take public

transportationóall are BATNAs to your buying a new car. Most car salespeople are hoping that all your BATNAs are unacceptable. If you canít live comfortably with the BATNA, youíll want to make a deal. They hope youíll make one thatís more profitable to them than to you.

In the world of negotiating, an agreement must meet several requirements (Conflict Management, 1997. Vantage Training, www.vantage-training.com):

  • It must satisfy the interests of both parties.
  • It must be the least wasteful among a field of many options.
  • It must be legitimate for all partiesóno one must feel taken advantage of.
  • It must be better than your BATNA.
  • It must include commitments that are operational and durable.
  • The process must be efficient and effective.

If your negotiated agreement meets these requirements, the process works and builds a strong relationship.

Another example: I take my cars back again and again to a particular shop.We have had several negotiations over the years, and through it all our relationship has become strong. I trust them.

So, whatís this got to do with our STC life? Well, each time we take on a volunteer position, we are negotiating to offer something to the chapter or the Society in return for something else. Many people avoid volunteering because they donít see how their agreement with the chapter meets the agreement requirements. Letís look at my agreement to be your director-sponsor:

Does it satisfy the interests of both parties?

Iím new, so thatís still being determined. Iím certainly happy from my side; only time will tell if you are happy from yours. I receive the chance to help others, make presentations on topics that I enjoy, and share my enthusiasm for STC with hundreds of people. So far, it meets this requirement.

Is it the least wasteful among a field of options?

Well, my field of options was to do volunteer work elsewhere, become a couch potato, learn to knit, take on a second job, or go back to school. I felt that doing STC volunteer work was the best route I could take toward my own professional growth. I had a good head of steam going, I was well known, and I loved the work. I couldnít say that about much else in my list of options. So, yes, I believe it meets this requirement.

Is it legitimate for all parties?

Do I feel cheated or taken advantage of? Certainly not. I am excited and hopeful that my work in this job will be helpful to all members of Region 5 and to the Society. Whether you, the members, will feel cheated has yet to be determined. Iím going to do the best I can to ensure that you are as happy about this agreement as I am!

Is it better than my BATNA?

As I check my field of options once more, I say Yes! I believe itís better than couch-sitting, returning to the life of a student, or moonlighting.

Are the commitments operational and durable?

I believe so. The commitment I have made is one that I know I am capable of carrying out. And I believe the commitment the Society has made to me is just as stable. The Societyís support, your help, and my ability to use my predecessors and fellow board members as mentors are all there for me to tap into. Yes, the commitments remain strong.

Is the process efficient and effective?

I hope that Iím doing my part. But for this to really work, communication must flow in both directions. You have to let me know whether you trust the relationship. If not, inform me so I have a chance to improve. Remember my example? If my mechanics make a mistake, itís my job to tell them. Avoiding them or going somewhere else doesnít do much goodóand it destroys the relationship.

As you take on new volunteer work, think about what you would have if you donít do the job, or help with the meeting, or sit on that council. What are your BATNAs? Are you being fair to †yourself? Do you really value the experience, feedback, and opportunity you receive as payment for your volunteer work? If so, youíll realize that your negotiated agreements with your Society strengthen relationships óeven if itís the relationship you have with yourself. Itís good to feel proud of a job well done.


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