Must I KeepOn Keepin On?

Posted on October 29, 2014
Filed Under Business, Change, Faith, Inspirational, Integrity | Leave a Comment

b_123000Announcing Change! Irritating emails fill my Inbox. Memos cover my desk.

Take action now! However, the little voice in my head screams:
1. I’m tired of change.
2. Why can’t things stay the same?
3. This isn’t the way we used to do it.
4. I refuse to make more changes. I quit.

Sound familiar? It’s the curse of every employee and manager in the world. Escape is impossible. Change occurs at work, home, at our children’s school and in our place of worship.

I’ve accepted that despite protests, headaches and temper tantrums, change is inevitable.

Consider this your final warning! Accept change, and move forward or you’ll sink like the Titanic, clinging to the status quo boat anchor.

There is a lifeboat waiting. I reserved your seat. Join me. You’re invited to face Change:

The G-HOW Plan
Grateful: Acknowledge the good things, people and conditions in your life.
Honest: It is easier than making up lies and forgetting what you said.
Open: New experiences can be fun. Trust me here.
Willing: Temper tantrums at age 30 or 50 aren’t attractive.

Grateful:

  • No less than twice a day, give thanks for what you have and for what you don’t have. Those with an ex-spouse know what I mean.
  • Make daily entries in a Gratitude Journal.
  • Be grateful for your health, even if it’s not great. I have a friend fighting bone marrow cancer for the second time. She fills her Facebook posts with words of thanksgiving for family, friends, doctors, the sight of a butterfly in her garden and for the cardinal’s song as he perches near her window.

Honest:

  • Be truthful in all communication whether it’s written, verbal or only in thought.
  •  Pause before responding, especially when angry or frustrated. Restraint is wise. No apologies to make later.

Open
Remain open to new and scary experiences. Most of us fear that which we have not experienced. Remember, fear is an emotion like love or anger. It’s not a fact of life.

  • Face fear. Running away is no longer your preferred option.
  • Ask for help from those who’ve survived challenges.
  • Celebrate success and those pesky “learning opportunities” (formerly called failures).

Willing
Be willing to face fear, take action and live to share your success. When you suit up and show up prepared to face the day, you demonstrate willingness to move from the guaranteed present towards an unknown, untested future.

Courage is found at the intersection of Fear and Faith.

 

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Neanderthal Negotiators! Not Extinct.

Posted on October 17, 2014
Filed Under Body Language, Communication, Customer Service, Inspirational, Integrity, Negotiation | Leave a Comment

Bullies are alive and some live in Kansas. Bullies take no hostages and revel in unearned victories.

The Fearless Negotiator met her match in the form of a 250 pound, 6’6”’ car repair shop owner and his tow truck cave man accomplice.
The mission was to help get a friend’s car out of the repair shop following an accident. A friend and I entered the body shop, introduced ourselves and shook hands. That was the last cave man socially acceptable action that the two bully business owners took.

The negotiation goal was to get a tow bill explained and hopefully a slight reduction in an exorbitant tow and storage charge for a two-mile tow.

Within 30 seconds of our arrival, the two men proceeded to yell insults at us, threatened to call the police, pounded on their chests in a primitive behavior, strutting around the lobby while telling me to shut up when I attempted to ask a question. Additionally, their logic included suggesting that people of my type, were one of the primary reasons that the United States of America was in disastrous shape.

Two petite American females were contributing factors in ruining America for the loyal red, white and blue Neanderthals that strutted before us. I had no idea that my physical stature could so do much damage to the Free Enterprise System by attempting to get a copy of an invoice and receive an explanation for the tow charges.

Bullies are not rational nor do they approach a discussion in a logical manner. They may choose to forgo doing business with someone again rather than risk losing a negotiation, especially while they promote their position in front of an audience.  The body shop lobby confrontation had drawn a peanut gallery of tow truck drivers and mechanics who wanted to add their two cents with occasional laughs, snorts and grunts. For awhile the scene resembled a spectacle between four gladiators in the Roman Coliseum.

Tips When Facing a Bully Negotiator:

  1. Do the Homework First: Research the company you intend to negotiate with. If the opponent is a tow truck operator or body shop, consider watching Tow Truck War TV shows that deal in the world of vehicle towing. Know your opponent!
  2. Show No Emotion: Do not raise your voice, yell or use profanity. Bullies want a fight and love seeing their opponent love their composure.
  3. Avoid Physical Violence. This is a battle of the mind, not a street confrontation.
  4. Call Them On Their Game: Say, “Most people don’t find it necessary to raise their voice when speaking to me. I am interested why you need to do that.”
  5. Anticipate their Tactics: Address upfront, by saying, “I do hope that you’ll yell at me at least once during this conversation. If you don’t you will not live up to my image of people in your line of business.

Happy Ending?

I’d love to report that I reasoned with the two business owners and they understood my concerns. Or that they gave my friend a discount. Neither happened. The only method of payment they would accept was cash. No checks nor credit cards today at least not from the two people who could ruin the American way of life by asking for a discount.
We paid cash and got out before we were physically harmed. Sometimes it’s best to walk away. As Kenny Rogers sang in in The Gambler, You’ve go to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em and know when to walk away.

I am wiser today. If there is a next time, I will take someone who speaks Neanderthal.

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Standard Contracts: No Laughing Matter

Posted on July 11, 2014
Filed Under Business, Communication, Financing, Negotiation | Leave a Comment

How often do you sign a contract without reading it?  You do that for hundreds of reasons. Six Common Excuses:

  1. If I delay to allow time to negotiate the contracts, the deal might go away.
  2. Been doing business with them for years. They’ve always done what they say they’ll do.
  3. They said the contract is non-negotiable.
  4. Lawyer cost too much.
  5. Contract is 2 pages long, how bad can it be?
  6. “It looks standard to me.”

If you’ve money to burn, sign a contract without reading it thoroughly and negotiating it aggressively. If you don’t ask for help, be prepared for a bumpy ride. Why? A written agreement remains long after the honeymoon glow wears off. Equipment breaks. Service falters or is inconsistent. The equipment doesn’t do what they promised it would do. Supplier and financial companies’ plus their contracts are frequently sold to competitors. You have new relationships to build. When times get rocky, neither old nor new relationships may carry much weight. Contracts are written by attorneys to protect their client, not you. Written agreements are one-sided and the balance on this teeter-totter is never equal. What can you do?

Play Worst Case

Assess the potential damages if the deal blows up in the first year. Be sure to add in the cost of paying the other guys legal fees, assumed damages, fines, late payment fees and penalties. If the case goes to court, there will be an expense to hire your attorney, pay court costs, filing fees, tax penalties and the list goes on. This expense is to defend you from the “unprincipled scoundrel” who used to be your trusted vendor/buddy.

Penalties usually include paying all remaining payments for the full term plus an amount to make up for lost profits the supplier experienced during the legal battle. And you still need to locate and pay for replacement service providers or equipment.

Weigh the Options

1. Read the agreement yourself. Consider how often you read contracts. What is your familiarity with the legal and contractual terms contained in the agreement? Do you know the laws in your state and how they apply to this contract? How familiar are with the laws in the state in which the case might be litigated. Seldom is the matter handled in your home state.

2. Hire an attorney. You can save the attorney a little review time by highlighting what you are most concerned about after you’re read the contract. Ask for a flat rate to review the agreement.

3. Hire a contract expert who is not an attorney. Propose that they work under a gain share agreement. Some agree to a flat rate (lower than that of an attorney) and a percent of the savings they achieve for you through their review and negotiation process.

These experts usually come from within your industry and have specialized knowledge of either the equipment or the service you require. They should also have knowledge of contract terminology and the financial terms and conditions specific to the project or transaction.

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