What hat will you wear, in your negotiations, in 2010?

Picture of negotiations in Vietnamese fish marketOur calendar says a new year is about to start.  How do we want the coming year to play out for ourselves?  What will we resolve to do?

As a mediator, when the parties are at loggerheads, unable to leave their position, e.g., I’m right, he’s wrong, I often remind the folks that we all feel that way from time to time.  When something isn’t going our way, it seems to be a human trait to explain our circumstance as a result of other’s actions.  At the same time, somewhere in our being, most of us also intuit that there is another way we could frame the situation before us e.g., as a shared opportunity to move forward in constructive ways.  Simplified, I say to the conflicting parties, we all have two hats, one that looks at a situation in a positive way and the other with a negative slant let’s put on our positive hat today.  I think it matters which hat we choose to put on.

So much of who we are, and can be, seems to be a paradox.  We hold the capacity to be both: caring and uncaring, self-interested and appreciative of others, resistant to change and open to learning new things

In February of this year, I wrote a blog post profiling insights from of America’s best known relationship experts, John Gottman.  His decades of research into why marriages succeed or fail show a magic relationship ratio of 5:1, the number of positive bids for connection versus negative bids required to sustain a marriage relationship.  This Christmas, I was gifted with Trust Agents, a book recently published by respected social media veterans, Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  Finished it yesterday, and was reminded on reading it of Brogan’s edict that we should promote others 12 times as often as often as we promote ourselves.  Whether in marriage or social media, relationships work when we truly think and care about the other.

Each new situation we face presents an opportunity to choose, to respond.  Sure, our emotions will kick in.  Then what?  What way of responding do we want to nurture?  What hat will we put on to negotiate?

This is my last post for 2009, my first year of blogging!  It has been a rewarding journey for me.  I am so appreciative of all of you who took time to connect with me, through shared online communities, in 2009.  I learned much from you.  I look forward to re-connecting and engaging with you down the road.  And, maybe we will also to chance to meet in-person.  That would be nice.

Louis Armstrong joyously sang of our better halves in What a Wonderful World (as in this off-viewed 1968 BBC video recording (on YouTube).

All the best in 2010, and I hope you each in your own ways, find many opportunities to say, What a Wonderful World.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to my blog. Thanks, Ben.


  1. Happy New Year Ben! I look forward to reading more of your thoughtful insights in this dawning of the new decade. See you when you’re next in Ten Thousand Villages for coffee.

  2. Thanks Maria. Yes, I’ll be in your store again soon – I seem to be going through my certified fairly traded coffee at an alarming, albeit enjoyable, rate! All the best for you and TTV in 2010.

  3. Hi there. my dad let me know about your website a few days ago, and I really love it. I will be back! Thank you!

  4. Hi, I’ve been a lurker on your blog for a few weeks. I love this article and your entire blog! Looking forward to reading more!

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