I started teaching Business Negotiating in August. I had just moved into my new apartment in San Francisco and I sat among the boxes preparing my 15 two hour classes for the weeks to follow. Even though I had spent years negotiating contracts for my employers and my own businesses I had never taught the subject of Business Negotiating until now.
A close friend of mine asked if I wasn’t even a bit intimidated by this and I told her I was not. This was because unlike many subjects this one was very close to my heart because if you can learn to negotiate early in life it is a great benefit. As I planned my course I thought about what I had wished I had known when I was the age of the 44 students that would be looking to me for this guidance. Luckily, I have a very fine textbook and as much as I abhorred the “textbook” in my college days it does give you a foundation on the subject, so I used this as my guide and went chapter by chapter laying the foundation and then layering it with stories from my own life.
I must add that even as I fell asleep while reading it I recognized that it imparted knowledge that could not be ignored. To keep myself awake I would sit in the lobby of my building and not leave until I finished a chapter, then I would return to my apartment and complete the slides. I did fall asleep on the sofa that sits in front of the fireplace in my building, but I persistent and would highlight and write all over the pages which I never did in college because I had to sell the book back to the used bookstore.
Although, I was not even in the least intimidated by the subject, getting to Berkeley from San Francisco proved daunting. The Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) system is not what it was. As I entered the underground and waited for my train I was surrounded by people that were anything but commuters. I sat next to a girl that was no older than my daughters. She looked like a student and as she was talking on the phone I overheard her say, “When I had my first over dose…” Next, three men boarded the train with me who appeared to be “unhoused” we sat down together next to two French girls traveling from SFO to East Oakland on vacation. They told me they had rented an Airbnb there, “Have you ever been to East Oakland?” I asked them.
Everything has been so new for me. From my coffee maker, to my work, to my home , and so on. I know that change is good for the soul but it has also been unnerving in many unexpected ways.
Today, I am teaching my 6th class in person on campus. I am going over the baseball negotiations from the lockout last spring. It illustrates the many points I have been making in negotiating. Next, I will be talking about ethics a tricky sub-topic. Is it o.k. to lie? When is lying unlawful? What do the concepts of honesty, fairness and benevolence play in negotiating? Do we care about these moral attributes? What about deception by omission vs. deception by commission? What does the word commission even mean? Is omission less unethical? For me it all goes back to trust. How important is trust in business? Do short term gains outweigh the loss of trust in a relationship or with yourself? These questions will be explored once I get to Berkeley from San Francisco. This is my new normal.
Love and blessings.