Packet Negotiation

I've found myself negotiating all the time in my new job.  Hotels.  Salary.  Scholarships.  Finding food.  Partnerships.  The learning curve has risen exponentially but not smoothly.  Ministry training doesn't prepare you for this.

A few years ago, a genius friend introduced me to a concept called "Packet Negotiation."  Now, he was a Stanford MBA graduate and understood what he was talking about.  How often do you get to hang out with a Stanford MBA or a genius or a rabbi?  But I've pieced parts of it together.

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Negotiations tend to deadlock over one issue.  And though the issue can differ from case to case, the issue at first usually is money.  And money makes negotiation tough, frequently makes everyone unhappy.

What I love about this idea of Packet Negotiation is that it requires a great deal of creativity and often leaves everyone happy, wondering.  It's unusual and strange and, at times, kind.

Instead of getting jammed up over one thing (like money or water), a packet negotiation digs deeper, unearthing other value packets.  Everyone values something other than money.  And those other packets can often be stretched further than money.  Some of those packets are worth everything.

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People don't always know what to do when you attempt a packet negotiation.  They've been taught that the only thing that matters is the dividing line, the win-lose.  When you attempt to broaden the horizon, deepen the conversation, they thrash, changing the subject almost randomly.

This happened to me today.  It tries your patience.

But it's still worth it.

Asking good questions, creating more options, making more space for gratitude and compromise ... wonderful things.  Sometimes the benefit is an ideal financial allocation (our negotiation today landed a rental car at a discounted rate, rather than the same amount in scholarship money ... saving us several hundreds of dollars and a lot of time, costing the other party nothing).  Sometimes the benefit is a lot bigger ... a spring of water welling up to eternal life, life in Jesus' name.

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Can you think of a "negotiation" that would have benefitted from finding multiple packets?

ps. If you think this is a dry, business-like post, you're probably right.  It's also a reflection on John 4 and the Woman at the Well.

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