Negotiation as an agile coach

Last week Michael de la Maza tweeted some interesting tweets about challenges for agile coaches.
The first two I can sometimes feel, the third one, I was not so sure:


So I responded with:

And like so many times, that is when things get interesting on twitter.


My first and still main answer is, practising. Doing a lot of negotiations.

  • I am with my partner since 1996, in 2020 that will be 24 years. I was 24 when we started our relation. And keeping a relation healthy, interesting etc, takes a lot negotiating.
    • +10 years ago we went into relational therapy, as we felt we needed help in talking to each other. I’m sure that influenced my negotiating skills also.
  • I have 3 teenage kids. Oh yes I have to negotiate with them. We did not raise them to <just do what we said>. And yes like many parent I sometimes regret that, yet I prefer discussing with them over them giving-in to group-pressure, something I think is one of the biggest challenges these days for teenagers)
  • I created my own company back in 1999, so that is +20 years of negotiating with customers, their employees and my own suppliers.
  • We build a house some years ago, that’s also took a lot of negotiating.

Now let’s make it clear, I made lot’s of mistake in each of these situations. And that’s fine, even if that never felt fine after I did make a mistake.

I know a lot of people who don’t consider most of these conversations negotiating skills. I do.
1) Every conversation where I want one thing, my conversation partner wants something else, and the goal of the conversation is we both walk away happy with the outcome, is for me a negotiation.
2) If one of us feels bad after such a conversation, it was a bad negotiation.

So for me the goal of a negotiation, is not to convince the other to give me what I want.

Two examples of bad negotiations

Last year I found out that what I thought was an agreement with a supplier, was not. He did not agree, yet he never told me. It took me months to understand why this person did not continue with the work he promised to do. He did not want to confront me, he felt doing that would be rude. We both got very frustrated.
After I found out, I’m did my best to regain trust, yet I do know it will take months, not to say years, and I know I have to be very careful as it feels that this person tries to avoid conflict. Where I believe in what Jim McCarthy says: you can not avoid conflict, only postpone it (and it will probably be worse by then). How frustrating it is, it’s not up to me to coach a supplier. This person has no desire to change. As I’m very happy of this person work, I need to adapt my conversations, and triple check if we both agree.

For a long time I had a cassette tape in my house of a conversation I had with a person. The first conversation I had with that person, I had a hung that this person was not sincerely. The next day we had a phone conversation where he made lots of promises, I felt he would not keep them. So I taped that whole conversation.
I really wanted the job as I was sure I was going to learn a lot (one of my main drivers to become independent) and I knew I would love the job & the colleagues.
I wasn’t sure about the boss. Although I think that he was a genius business builder, he was also asking me and my colleagues to lie to the clients, which I refused.
In the end, he did indeed not keep his promises and that did cost me a lot of money. Yet at some point I decided, <I knew from the start this person could not be trusted. I consider that money a payment for not listening  to my gut feeling.> That never happened again. I trust people by default, yet if something tells me, don’t trust this person… I listen and I walk away.

Books I read on negotiating

I know that next to many conversations, I read a lot of books. Here is a quick list of books that I think learned me something about communication and negotiating. (In no particular order, other then seeing them in my library)

Also tons of books on parenting and working on my relation…

Adviced by friends:


A friend one advice me the netflix serie: House of Cards, as I’m not a big television serie fan, I never did.

What books, movies or series do you know that teached you something about negotiating?

Tweet them out to me, and I’ll add them here.