RHONDA ABRAMS: STRATEGIES
newest book is
Research. For more
tips, see www.Plan
NICE GUYS FINISH last.
Baseball manager Leo
The fine art of
or need. But the other person had better feel like
they’re being treated fairly, too. That’s the relation-
ship view of negotiations.
Negotiations are far more likely to succeed
when both sides share the same attitude.
For instance, if both parties in a negotiation
are transaction-oriented¸ the negotiations may get
heated, but everyone’s likely to understand that’s
just part of the process and not take it personally.
And if both of you are relationship-oriented,
you’re almost certain to be able to reach an ami-
cable and fair agreement. You may have to give up
something more today, but the other party will be
willing to give up something more tomorrow. You’re
both able to take the long view, recognizing that the
relationship itself has value.
The worst negotiations are when the two
parties have differing viewpoints. If one of you is
concentrating solely on the transaction (“what’s
in it for me?”), while the other is also concerned
about the relationship (“what’s best for both
of us in the long run?”), it’s a recipe for anger,
frustration and probably a long and unpleasant
negotiation. (Think divorce!)
The best businesspeople recognize the value of
approaching their negotiations from a relationship
point of view. After all, it’s very costly to have to find
new customers. The best personal relationships are
built on that approach, too. After all, it’s even more
costly to find a new spouse! C
Durocher coined the term,
explaining how athletes
Unfortunately, the phrase
has permeated business
IN ALL ASPECTS of life, we’re negotiating. We nego-
tiate when we’re in business—whether it’s with
suppliers, customers or employees. We negotiate
with our family members—over big things and
small. We negotiate when we buy or sell.
Most of us think of negotiations as “zero sum”
games—what one side gives up, the other side gets,
and vice versa. Maybe that’s true if you’re never
going to do business with, live with or be friends
with the person on the other side again. This is the
transaction view of negotiations.
For most of us, however, negotiations are just
one aspect of ongoing alliances. You’re still going to
be buying from your supplier, you still want to use
your mechanic, you still want to have a pleasant
dinner with your spouse. In these negotiations, we
recognize that, sure, we want to get what we want
and other parts of our
lives, impacting relation-
ships. In The Power of Nice
Costco members Linda
Kaplan Thaler and Robin
Koval, who head the New
York advertising agency
The Kaplan Thaler Group,
debunk the myth.
With a foreword by Jay
Leno, often referred to as
“one of the nicest guys in
show business,” and laced
with evidentiary anecdotes
and advice, the book makes
a strong case for niceness
while also noting that it
doesn’t mean “being wimpy.”
The book highlights six
“Power of Nice” principles.
All work and no play ...
Positive impressions are
like seeds. The power of nice
has a domino effect. That
SOME PEOPLE would have you
believe that work is not supposed
to be fun. After all, that’s why they
call it work. Dr. Brooks Mitchell is
not one of those people.
Mitchell, a professor of management at the University of
Wyoming and a Costco member,
founded a company called
Snowfly ( www.snowfly.com),
which helps companies of 20 or
more employees set up incentive
programs to inspire worker productivity. The Laramie,
Wyoming, company produces
online games for these programs.
“Incentive programs are
here to stay,” suggests Mitchell.
“Most people give employers
what they will in terms of job
performance. A fair day’s work
for a fair day’s pay. Incentive
plans, properly constructed,
will go beyond what people will
give you and rise to the level of
what people can
be fun. He offers
these steps for
game-based incentive plans.
1. Identify performance objectives and give
certain values to
2. Award tokens
via the Internet to people who
achieve their objectives and allow
them to visit a virtual game
room, where they can play their
tokens and win points.
3. Allow those points to be
redeemed online or as debit
cards, gift cards, etc.
4. Monitor and evaluate results.
So, employees get instant
COURTESY OF SNOWFLY.COM
effect may not be immediately
apparent but will eventually
find its way back.
You never know. A
stranger on the street may
seem insignificant, but could
be related to your boss or
People change. Treat
everyone with respect.
Today’s clerk could be
Nice must be automatic.
It loses its effectiveness if
used only sporadically.
rewards and gratification from
game-based incentive programs,
but what do employers get?
According to Dr. Mitchell,
“employers get an increase in
desired staff behaviors such as
higher retention rates, enhanced
morale, improved attendance,
increased sales and a fully
engaged workforce.” C
are like germs. The flip side
of the first step above.
You will know. The
effects of your actions may
not be seen but they are felt,
if only by you. Treating others
with kindness, respect and
generosity will be repaid with