Listen, Empathize, Give A Little

A colleague was talking to me about negotiating and working with others:


He said something I liked: 


Listen, empathize, and give a little. 


Yes, we each have our beliefs and positions on things.


But we don’t live in a vacuum.


Other people have their own views, sensitivities, and wants. 


We have to get along so we can work together, and get things done. 


It starts by listening–not just hearing, but really listening to what the other person is saying. 


But that’s not really enough. 


To really understand the other person, we have to try to empathize with what they are feeling–we need to try to walk in their shoes even if just for a moment. 


But that also isn’t enough. 


We can’t have it all our way–we need to give a little to get a little. 


No one can have everything and have a good relationship like that. 


We need to compromise–as long as it’s not on things of integrity, conviction, or G-d. 


Everything else we have to listen, empathize, and give a little.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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“Shock And Awe” Project Management

So this is a new type of project management and it can be very effective. 


It’s called (my name): 

Shock and Awe Project Management


This technique is similar to the military doctrine of shock and awe that uses speed and overwhelming power to dominate the battlefield and vanquish the enemy.


In project management too, there are often naysayers, Debbie Downers, resisters, excuse makers, and people that lay down obstacle after obstacle to progress. 


This invariably derails projects and causes them to fall behind schedule, go over budget, experience scope creep, not meet the genuine user requirements, and ultimately fail!


However, if you manage the project with “shock and awe” and set aggressive timelines, assign substantial and very good resources, and move the project full speed ahead, then you can similarly create a momentum to the project that enables it to overcome the “enemies of the progress” (i.e. those that don’t really want it to succeed or are too busying covering their own a*ses).


This approach is not advocating speed at the expense of quality nor is it calling for cutting corners or riding roughshod over people, but rather to the contrary, it calls for techniques similar to the military of moving with absolute focus, determination, efficiency, collaboration, synchronization, and overwhelming “project power” to ensure it’s success. 

Projects, like battles, can be “won” by putting the right resources on the field and moving them to get quick wins in rapid succession (where the enemies of progress don’t stand a real fight) so that the projects get not only completed on time and within budget, but most importantly to real stakeholder satisfaction and the organization’s success. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to AlexVan)

Under The Feet Of Haters

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So there is a saying in Washington, D.C….


“You know you’ve made it when you have your haters.”


This is a very political town!


But more than that, a leader has to take a position. 


You have to stand for something. 


There are oodles of constituencies and no matter how hard you try, you will never satisfy everyone. 


Yes ideally, we always want to create a win-win situation. 


However, every give, usually has a take, since the pie isn’t infinite. 


Compromise where possible, but hold your ground where necessary. 


The key is to choose a direction from your conscience and follow your moral compass and do the most good for the most people and what’s right in the eyes of G-d. 


Unfortunately, some people will declare themselves your mortal enemy and try to stamp you out of existence just for being and following who you are. 


Many of us who have experienced racism, discrimination, slavery, and even genocide know this senseless hate all too well. 


Be strong of of good courage and do righteousness. 


G-d is our rock and shield. 

Psalm 27: “The L-rd is my light and salvation–whom shall I fear?  The L-rd is the stronghold of my life–of whom shall I be afraid.”

So as your enemies advance to step on and try and crush you, remember that G-d will decide where their feet actually land and how they will fall. 🙂


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Loyalty To Others Vs. True To Yourself

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So after the aborted Healthcare bill to replace failing Obamacare, President Trump tweeted about the alt-right’s lack of support for the bill: 

“We learned a lot about loyalty [today].”


The Freedom Caucus refused to vote with the rest of the Republicans on the 7-year long awaited repeal and replace of Obamacare. 


Instead, they felt it didn’t go farther enough to rescind everything from Obamacare they hated, and they chose to leave Obamacare as the solution for the foreseeable future, rather than get a replacement bill they felt was also subpar.


Whether this was smart or dumb, time will tell. 


– Smart – If down the road, they get a better replacement to Obamacare then what was being offered now. 


– Dumb – If rather than a better replacement, we end up either stuck with Obamacare indefinitely or get an even worse alternative later. 


It’s a little like gambling Vegas–they decided to roll the dice again, rather than leave the table with their winnings. 


Sure, they could end up a bigger winner or they can lose it all, so we’ll see. 


But there is another important question here:


What obligation did they have to be loyal and vote with their party vs. being loyal to their own conscience?


The Democrats have held the line better in terms of voting as block–and hence they have proved superior in many cases in wielding their share of power. 


In contrast, the Republicans have been more divided and hence, they can’t get the votes they need to pass the legislation desired by the right–because somebodies are always holding out for a better deal. 


But Trump represents “The Art of the Deal,”–and a deal usually means negotiation, compromise, and that nobody gets everything they want.


So while everyone should vote and act their conscience, there is also something to be said for loyalty to the team effort. 


If everyone just holds out for what they want, then really that stoneheadedness will result in virtually nothing getting done. 


We’ve all got to give a little to get a little, as long as it doesn’t violate our moral compass, core values, and faith. 


Loyalty also has to do with showing and acting with respect. 


And being disloyal to the team and leadership has ramifications.


Those who seemed as if they were being true to themselves and their constituents–may end up having really let themselves and the others down, and not just Trump and Ryan. 


Finally, loyalty is a two-way street, and I have a feeling Caesar is not yet done with the great treachery that was perhaps so callously inflicted on him and the greater national cause. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Compromise Preferred

 

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Sometimes we may feel that we are right and that’s it.


Our inclination is perhaps to just do what we think and hold the line. 


But if we can take a step back and listen to the concerns of others then we can be the bigger for it. 


That sweet spot of compromise is where we keep both our integrity intact and still find a middle ground that’s acceptable to the many. 


Compromise is better than just giving someone the proverbial finger and telling them where to go and how to get there. 


Strength is peace…and peace is strength.


When that doesn’t work, then there still always the alternative for good to overcome evil in this world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Peace Through Strength

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So this is what I’ve learned about conflict management…


Obviously, we are better off without conflict and to simply all get along–that’s the ideal!


Now unfortunately, in real life there may be situations where we may have fundamental differences of opinions and goals, and at times these may seriously clash. 


What’s good for you, may be bad for me (or vice versa)…that’s called a win-lose situation. 


And when we don’t see eye to eye and can’t get along, then either we can try to work it out and that’s where diplomacy comes in or at other times, we may have no choice but to take up arms and go to war.


Our first choice is diplomacy. Here, we sit down to listen and try genuinely to understand each other, and have empathy on others…life is not easy for anyone. 


Still we need to mesh what others want with what we need for our own wellbeing and progress, and that’s where negotiation, compromise, and de-escalation come into play. 


Best case scenario, we come up with a win-win situation, where we can both walk away from the table with a respectable enough amount of what we each want and our egos still intact, so that that we can all go our merry ways and pursue our lives and live within our values and amidst security.  


However, in some cases, some may be so unreasonable, intractable, and their actions so aggressive, egregious, and dangerous as to threaten, harm, and violate the lives of others, that it’s intolerable for it to continue any longer.


What’s left when we can’t put up and shut up, and when talk is exhausted, is to fight for what we believe in, for who we are, and for our right to live and prosper. 


Once, twice, three times and you’re out of time and luck–we are seriously headed for a clash of persons and/or civilizations. 


Peace is better won without firing a shot, but when it’s time to pull out the guns, they better be damn big and deadly ones. 


That is called peace through strength…where we have the guts and means to back up our position with force, if necessary. 


None of this bullshit of bringing a knife to a gunfight; instead, when we have no choice but to fight, we fight to win and everything is on the table. 


Peace is the preference, but if war is the only answer, then the other side may have unleashed hell, and that is what they will get from peace through strength delivered! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Silence Or Violence

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So when it comes to “Crucial Conversations,” they unfortunately frequently end in silence or violence.


When the “stakes are moderate to high, opinions vary, and emotions run strong” that’s when communication really seems to break down, rather than achieve their goals of working things out. 


Like when our lives are in danger and we have the adrenalin rush reactions to fight or flight, similarly with potentially “dangerous” communications, people become aggressive and abusive or shutdown and withdraw. 


When your afraid of a negative outcome, either you start hammering others with your ideas and opinions or you exit the conversation and seek safety. 


Either way, at this point, there’s no real common ground, negotiation, compromise, or win-win to be easily had…in this pressure cooker poor excuse of a dialogue, it can basically become a tragic win-lose situation.


Perhaps, that’s why there are mediators and neutral third parties that are often brought in to make people feel (relatively) safe again, help them be understood and to understand, and to find a negotiated peace or settlement. 


And what happens when even this doesn’t work and communication and diplomacy fails?


Well that’s when people and countries bring out the big guns and they essentially go to war to win what they hoped to achieve with dialogue. 


Now words are no longer the only choice, but all options are on the table, and that’s when benign words can quickly turn into more drastic or deadly deeds (aka the children reframe of “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never harm me.”


And there is always the thermonuclear option–people supported it with Japan in WWII and they say they would support it with a Tehran that violates the very generous nuclear deal they received.


Words are a prelude to a possible peace or an unwanted war. 


They can be the last chance to work things out the way we hope for.


And if words alone can’t resolve the issue, then blood and treasure is spent and spilt to resolve the otherwise unresolvable. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)