Negotiation Lessons from Fishing with Dad

 

Reading a recent article by Nithya Shanti, reminded me of one of my first lessons in negotiation.

As a young boy, my father and I used to grab our dog, Nora, and go fishing for perch in the local river for the day. I have dear memories of these peaceful and bonding times by the river, sitting, chatting and spending one-on-one time with my dad. 

As a six year old, I was totally amazed by my dad’s ability to twist and turn the nylon wire to make the perfect knots. For me, this was one of his incredible skills.  So one day, I asked my father, “Dad, if I give it a go, do you think I could do the knot for my rod all by myself?” My father replied, “I’m sure you can, if you use all your resources.” 

I tried my best to copy the tricky loops and twists with the thin fishing line, but I just couldn’t get it right. All I managed to do was twist it all around my little fingers, which wasn’t quite helping with the process. 

I said, with disappointment, “You were wrong, dad. I can’t do it.” 

“Try again,” replied my father. 

Again, I gave it another go, but didn’t do much better. 

“Dad, I can’t do it,” I said again, almost sobbing. 

Finally my father said: “Son, I told you to use all your resources, but you didn’t. You didn’t ask for my help.”

This was first lesson on the importance of teamwork and interdependence that I learnt from my dad. And it echoed in me many times in my life as a professional negotiator, and once again when I was reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, when he wrote:

“Our real strength lies not in independence, but in interdependence. No individual person has all the strengths, all the resources and all the stamina required for the complete blossoming of their vision. That requires the inspired collaboration of many like-hearted beings.” 

Asking for help and support, when we need it, is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom. Our ultimate strength, in life, business and negotiations, lies in our togetherness. Leveraging the diversity and the best of each individual in the team.

Who is on your team? 

By Fabian Courtaux

Read the Sequel to this Article: The Secret Sauce of Top Negotiation Teams

 

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