The True Story:
Thomas Jefferson’s home, located outside Charlottesville, Virginia, is named “Monticello.” It includes a sprawling plantation house and outbuildings that are preserved as a museum and popular tourist attraction. Monticello is considered an excellent example of neoclassical architectural design, and is registered as a National Historic Landmark.
Each day hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tourists take guided tours of the site and its main house, which have been painstakingly decorated, floor to ceiling, with precious antiques of the early 1800’s. In each bedroom in the main house, on each bed is a precious quilt, hand-sewn in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s.
For years, the museum curators found dirty fingerprints on the quilts, left there by curious tourists. Washing or cleaning these quilts posed a danger of additional wear and tear to the centuries-old, hand-sewn cloth. So, museum staff placed a sign next to each bed that read, “Please do not touch the quilts. Thank you.” The signs did not help; tourists kept touching the quilts.
Then the museum staff placed a rope around each bed so that tourists could not easily reach the beds and their quilts. The ropes did not help; tourists simply went around them, and kept touching the quilts.
Finally, exasperated museum staff placed a sign next to each quilt-covered bed that read, “DANGER – Wash Hands IMMEDIATELY after Touching Quilts.” Since then, some eight years ago, not one handprint or finger smudge has been left on the quilts.
The Moral of the Story:
People will often do “the right thing.” But people will almost always do what they view to be good for them. That you can count on – and should.
If you want to change someone’s behavior or guide their future actions – which is the definition of negotiating – then make your goal look GOOD FOR THEM. This way, they are highly likely to do what you want, because they see it as being good for them.
Making the other side view things as “good for them” is the true art of negotiating. That is what you need to think about in advance of “sitting down at the table.” And, too, it should determine what you say “at the table.”
Bear that in mind next time you want a raise, seek to stop harassment, would like to be named a partner, want to change a performance appraisal, or have in mind any other improvement in your workplace circumstances.
Emphasizing PRESENT AND FUTURE VALUE TO YOUR MANAGER is what will most likely translate into ADDITIONAL VALUE TO YOU.
Don’t forget those quilts.
© 2015 Alan L. Sklover. All Rights Reserved. Commercial Use Strictly Prohibited