A new baby in the house makes bargaining pointless

The effect of a new baby in a house is like the presence of the troika in the country. There is no bargaining power, writes Colm O’Regan
A new baby in the house makes bargaining pointless

Negotiation: there’s going to be a lot of it. After the election there are numerous permutations of negotiating partners. Some are more serious than others. Enda may call Gerry Adams and say something like “Look, I have to ask…” and Gerry will reply with “I know” and they’ll both start laughing.

Eventually some combinations will get down to business, which is apt because “negotiate” comes from the Latin for ‘not leisure’ which shows the Romans had their priorities right. They aren’t always right though. Coalition originates from “grow together” whereas in Ireland it means “to be consumed in the fiery flames of public anger together”

In advance of any negotiations you will hear talk of ‘red line issues’. This is the latest phrase to enter the bolloxological lexicon. It means the issues you won’t negotiate on. But don’t worry, that’s just something you say in an election.

Speaking of Red Line issues, the Luas negotiations will go on also. The Luas unions have adopted an interesting tactic — strike on the strike-iest days imaginable. Maybe, by threatening to disrupt the 1916 commemorations, they were sending a message to preening Official Ireland that the big struggles of that historic era were as much about labour rights as about national self-determination.

Or maybe they just want their 10 grand. The problem for that kind of negotiating tactic is Luas workers running out of important days. If the threat of Easter strikes doesn’t budge management, the only marquee days left as bargaining chips left are Black Friday, Dec 8 & The Rapture.

If anyone needs a loan of it, I have a self help book about the negotiation called Crucial Conversations — Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High. It’s the archetypal business management book. Obviously I haven’t read it, God no, but the cover is impressive. It has the serifed typeface you associate with books for people who work hard and play hard I don’t need it. I’m a lost cause. I can’t even negotiate with myself. Mornings meant a battle between the two Colms who currently work at ORegantech.

The Colm 1 is go-ahead change management specialist, is looking to implement a programme of constant improvement and drive efficiencies through initiatives — like getting out of bed when the alarm goes off. But to get anything done he’ll need to convince The Colm 2 who works in Operations. He is a wiley oldtimer who has been with the company from the beginning, is unwilling to change and knows every trick in the book in order to avoid initiatives. He just wants to press the snooze button and wait for retirement.

But of course all that is moot now. My negotiating days are over. The effect of a new baby in a house is like the presence of the troika in the country. There is no bargaining power with someone who implies “I don’t care what you want. We are in a crisis. I have just pooed myself.”

I would say that’s almost word-for-word what Jean Claude Trichet said to the government. There’s no negotiating with that. Having caved in to her needs, I turn to ‘Crucial Conversations’ for help and read aloud.

‘Difficult conversations are made easier if we can fill the pool of shared meaning which is the birthplace of synergy. You need to commit to seek a mutual purpose, before brainstorming new strategies. Only then can we fill the pool of shared meaning. And give birth to synergy’

Wait! She’s asleep. Maybe there’s some self help in this book after all.

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