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Once you know your value, you need to know what you need and want. Sound easy? It isn’t.

Let’s think Pirates of the Caribbean.

Elizabeth Swann has been captured by the pirates and negotiates for them to cease fire on Port Royal. The pirate captain asks “what is it that you want?” She replies “for you to leave and never come back.”

The captain agrees and the first mate orders cannons stopped and stowed and flags unfurled for sail. Elizabeth realizing they are about to set sail with her still aboard demands the captain put her ashore. The captain replies “your return to shore was not part of our negotiation nor agreement.”

Knowing what you need and want means being clear to yourself and others about what your expectation is. Your needs and wants will only be met as far as you can identify them.

My team at work is currently understaffed by two people, so our primary need is time. It is tempting to gain some time by pushing the work back to requesters, asking them to do it themselves for now. However, doing so often means a lot more time on the back end mitigating issues. The requesters are not experts at what we do. We are. That’s why they ask us to do it.

What is our expectation then?

Our team looked at where we spend the majority of our time and found that most of it is spent trying to uncover the information necessary to make decisions, and then ensuring the entire organization is on the same page. Therefore, our need would be that requesters give us all the information necessary to make decisions up front. Our expectation is also that they have the buy-in from all affected functions in the organization. This allows us to be experts at what we should be, push back work appropriately and save time.

To figure out your needs and wants, it’s best to take a few minutes and envision the best outcome. Think it through, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I really expect to have happen? What does it look like? Feel like? Sound like?
  • What do I NOT want to have happen? Think the worst. What would make the worst happen? (And make sure you account for that!)
  • What assumptions have I made? What am I taking for granted…because you may be the only one who is taking it for granted!

Elizabether Swann learned this the hard way…several times in Pirates of the Caribbean. But she soon caught on. Knowing your needs and wants is the difference between being set free on a deserted isle in the Caribbean with no food or water and being set free safely back in your home harbor.

Tune in next week when we explore rule 3 of negotiations–how to find out what others need and want. Hint: Observation!

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