One of the twenty or so must read books mentioned in Poor Charlie’s Almanac is “Getting to Yes” – a principled approach to negotiations. It is an excellent and accessible read on getting to mutually agreeable outcome during negotiations ranging from salary to nuclear disarmament talks. For my present gig I commute between South San Francisco and San Jose on a not-so-enjoyable highway 101. Listening to books is a great way to utilize this time. In the book authors point out that one of the mistake parties make during the negotiation is just thinking about one’s own positions. Parties overlook the fact that the folks on the other side of table are humans too. Focusing on the basic human needs of security, appreciation, well being etc. would result in successful results for all parties.

While keeping the human nature in focus during negotiation is definitely fruitful, but I think this principle can be applied in general to a lot more situations. Especially while talking to people in authority. For example students can keep this in mind while talking to professors. Most of the time students would be focused on their own world and think professors are this abstract entities who are after their life giving assignments, asking them to review and re-review their assignments. Same goes for employees towards their managers etc. How many times any one thinks that professors or managers may have a life too. With loving wife and kids may be a dog too. Focusing on the human side of authorities would result in better and cordial relations.