Negotiations and Love Songs

When I was eighteen years old, I asked five boys to the prom, and they all said no. I'd never dated anyone, didn't even own a prom dress, but nevertheless I persisted in asking.

When I exhausted my options of clean and harmless looking boys I wouldn't mind dancing with, I went with my fallback option. I went to the senior prom stag, in my sister's borrowed dress and in her platform shoes, and had the most wonderful time. No date, no problem.

From this I learned you need not be afraid to ask for what you want. You can still thrive and enjoy the dance even when you're told no, over and over again. You just need to show up for yourself. 

When I was twenty-three years old, I married a Japanese guy who overstayed his student visa, because I adored him. He wanted to become a jazz drummer, and in our short-lived romance, I thought he was the Ryan Gosling to the La La Land I imagined. 

Few months later, at the green card interview with a humorless immigration officer, my then-husband couldn't answer a single question about me or about the life we shared in the drab railroad apartment in Brooklyn. He hadn't done his homework. He forgot all the English he knew. I was shellshocked.

He flew back to Japan. I moved on. 

I thought we had a deal - one made in "good faith," and it turned out to be one-sided delusion instead. A deal with no follow-through is perhaps worse than no deal at all. I was so disappointed. He could have gotten a green card, and we could have stayed married (yikes), if he - like a masterful negotiator - researched and prepared ahead.

It was heartbreaking then, but now the story makes me chuckle and feel grateful for the rich lessons it taught me on how not to botch a high-stakes negotiation. 

Negotiation is life. Your career, your finances, your home life, your love life and your reputation all depend on your ability to negotiate. To negotiate is to simply communicate with the intention of reaching agreement, something we do day in and day out. To negotiate well, you do your homework in advance with research and practice, clearly ask for what you want, risk no, and follow through with action.

Like me, you have stories. Stories of love lost and won. Stories of how you prevailed or failed. My bet is that in them are nuggets of rich negotiation wisdom that make most academic books on negotiation theory pale in comparison. 

This Valentines Day, I dare you to tell your stories of negotiations and love songs.