You Can Negotiate Anything, Anywhere, Anytime

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Interview with Fiona McVie

Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age? 
My name is Mary Greenwood and I am 73.
Fiona: Where are you from? 
I am American. I was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and grew up in Connecticut. I move around a lot, but currently I am living in St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the US.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
In college I was an English major and probably was on my way to being an English teacher. While in graduate school, I applied to law school to use my writing skills as an attorney. I worked as a College Attorney, County Attorney and Law Professor. At the end of my career I worked as Director of Human Resources. I was always interested in ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) and was a certified mediator and a chief negotiator for management in union negotiations. Currently I am working part-time as an arbitrator.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news. 
My latest news is that the third edition of How to Negotiate Like a Pro, How to Resolve Anything, Anytime, Anywhere was just published. The first two editions have won nine book awards. I have a new chapter on How to Negotiate With Difficult People, including narcissists, bullies and pathological liars.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Legal Writing has always been part of my job as an attorney.  I started writing my How To bookswhen I was semi-retired.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
After I wrote my first book, How to Negotiate Like a Pro in 2006, I would tell people I was a writer.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
When I was negotiating union contracts, I started jotting down those strategies and rules that worked and those that did not work in a negotiation. My “aha” moment was when I realized that these “rules” applied to all phases of life, not just negotiations. That is when I felt compelled to write a book on my own experience as a negotiator.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I felt confident that after years of experience in negotiating that my rules would be helpful to the reader who tried them. That is why I called it How to Negotiate Like a Pro. Then I continued the series with How to Mediate Like a Pro, winner of 12 book awards, based mostly on my experience as a mediator for eBay buyers and sellers. The third book, How to Interview Like a Pro, winner of twelve book awards is based on the premise that the whole process of getting a job from the application to negotiating salary is one big negotiation.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging? 
My writing style is informal and anecdotal. I try to give lots of tips and examples so it is clear what I am recommending. In How to Negotiate Like a Pro, I have scripts with each rule to help someone, especially those new to negotiation, use the rule in a real negotiation.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
My How To books are based on my own experience and knowledge. I include lots of  personal anecdotes. I purposefully don’t read any books about my subject before I start to write. I want the books to be my ideas.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
All of the covers have puzzle pieces. I like the idea that in a negotiation or mediation, you are putting together a lot of different factors or pieces, like in a jigsaw puzzle.
Fiona: Is there a message in your books that you want readers to grasp?
The message is that if  you practice the techniques in my book, you can negotiate, mediate, or get a job.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?  Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
My favorite writers are Herman Melville and James Joyce. Their work is timeless and can be read and reread for new insights. I enjoy John Grisham’s books andI pass them on to my son, who is a judge, and my daughter-in-law, who are also fans. I also read Hillary Clinton’s What Happened and enjoy reading memoirs.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author. 
My family members were supportive, but I was mostly self-motivated. I didn’t really talk much about my book until it was published.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
At this stage of life, I would say, “no.” I writemy books because I believe I have important things to say that can help others but not to make money.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
The beauty of a How To book is that I can do second and third editions. I have added new material and updated my negotiation book twice. I also did a second edition of How to Interview Like a Pro.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book? 
I learned how to spell narcissist. I always learn a lot about organization and grammatical writing.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead? 
I am now working on a Memoir (whose working title is Silver Alert) about women law students and women lawyers in the 60’s and 70’s. Of course I would want Meryl Streep to play the older me and Emma Stone to play the younger me.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Just start writing. Don’t worry about the editing until you have written everything you want to say. Then go through and see what you want to keep. I usually throw away about a third of what I write. Sometimes I will save it for another book if it has some good ideas.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers? 
Everything is negotiable. You just have to decide what you are willing to give up in order to get what you want.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Camino Island by John Grisham.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember reading Fun With Dick and Jane in elementary school. I don’t remember them being much fun though. I liked the Nancy Drew series. I remember being sick with the measles and reading several Bobbsey Twins books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Any animal getting hurt, especially a dog, makes me cry. I love slapstick like old I Love Lucy skits.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why? 
I would love to meet early suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  I would love to meet Mark Twain who had a sad life, but is one of the most quoted people in US. His house in Hartford was close to where I lived. I would love to meet Ben Franklin who was so many things: a politician, diplomat, writer and inventor.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies? 
I am a grandmother of two lovely grandsons, Jack 11 and Gage 9. I try to spend as much time with them as I can. I also like to travel. Lately I bring my Boston Terrier, Annabelle, with me wherever I go. I know all the dog-friendly hotels and attractions.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Seinfeld and now Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors,  music? 
My favorite color is blue, followed by purple and pink. I am a 11 year cancer survivor and have learned to love pink. I love the Beatles. I am a vegetarian and I love desserts.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do? 
Tell stories out loud.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone? 
She persisted.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers? 


Friday, November 17, 2017

How to Apologize Like a Pro Especially during the Holidays

How to Apologize Like a Pro

The third revised and updated edition of my book How to Negotiate Like a Pro, How to Resolve Anything, Anytime, Anywhere was recently published.  I have included a section in How to Apologize Like a Pro that is relevant during the holidays. I picked How to Apologize Like a Pro for three reasons. 
  1. There is a lot of bad behavior in the recent news. When making an apology, some deny their behavior;  some explain their behavior; and some try to apologize but often make things even worse. 
  2. It’s the holiday season. If you are estranged from a relative or friend, maybe this is the year you will  attempt to reconcile. Consider that your first move may be rejected but at least you know you made the effort. 
  3. We are not getting any younger. As we get older we may regret things we said or did in the past and want to  make amends before it is too late. 
  4.  What is an apology? A good apology is when one party accepts blame and responsibility for one’s actions and shows some kind of remorse or regret. Sometimes a party only wants an apology in order to resolve a dispute. It sounds like an easy way to settle a situation since no money is involved. However, that is usually not the case. An apology is in the realm of feelings and principles and some people see an apology as a sign of weakness.  Why is an apology so important to some people? It is a way to get their respect, dignity and reputation back. An apology can be very satisfying especially if the other side feels that he or she has been vindicated. 
Here are tips for a good apology:

1. The apology must be heartfelt and not be given begrudgingly. 
If it is not sincere, the apology will make the situation worse. If a person cannot give a sincere apology, it is not worth the effort.

2. An apology cannot be sarcastic. 
A sarcastic apology defeats the whole purpose of an apology; this is not a time to be snarky or flippant. An apology must be sincere.

3. You cannot add a “but” to the apology.
You can’t say, “ I am sorry, but it was really your fault.” That isn’t an apology. I once had a serious argument with a family member; the next morning she purportedly called to make an apology, but then she added all the things I did wrong to the end of the apology.  She should have just said “I am sorry.”

4. A good apology accepts blame.
As stated in Rule 3 above, people love being told, “you are absolutely right.” An apology that accepts blame is more likely to be accepted. “I really goofed on this. I am sorry and will try to make it up to you.” 

5. Keep it simple.
It is enough to say “I am sorry.” or “I apologize.” The more you say, the easier it is to get in trouble. Don’t be tempted to add something more so that you make things worse.

6. If someone apologizes to you, be gracious and accept it.
It is hard for some people to apologize. Somehow it gets stuck in their craw. If someone apologizes to you, accept it, and move on.

Here are some examples of weak and then revised apologies:

1. I am sorry if what I said hurt your feelings.
Translation: I am not really sorry for what I said, but I am sorry you took it the wrong way.
Revised Apology. I am sorry I hurt your feelings.

2. I am sorry you were offended by what I said.
Translation. I am not saying I am sorry I said it.
Revised Apology. I am sorry I said that. 

3. I am sorry if you misinterpreted my meaning. 
Translation. I am not sorry. You made the mistake.
Revised Apology. I am sorry I said that.

4. I am sorry we had a communication problem.
Translation. It’s mostly your fault.
Revised Apology. I am sorry I misled you.

5. I am sorry that you feel that you need an apology for what I did. 
Translation. I am not really sorry. You are very needy.
Revised Apology: I am sorry for what I said.

Never underestimate the power of an apology. Remember “To forgive is divine.” 

Mary Greenwood, Negotiator, Mediator, Attorney and Author of How To Negotiate LIke A Pro, How to Mediate Like a Pro and How to Interview Like a Pro. Books available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Nook and Kindle.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

How to Deal with a Boss Who has a Short Attention Span

1. Get to the point quickly.
Don't make it overly complicated. Skip the background and history you might tell someone with a longer attention span.

2. Summarize and put everything on one page.
If you report has several pages, put everything the boss needs to know on one page. Then summarize the one page with a conclusion.

3. Write a short agenda for your meeting for your use.
Write what you want to say, your quick arguments for your recommendation, so you know exactly what you want to say and how long it takes.

4.  Prepare a written document for him to sign in case your boss agrees with your recommendation.
It will save time if you have a written document to sign or even two alternatives if there are two possibilities. This will save you the time of coming back just to sign.

5. Allow your boss to take credit for signed agreement.
Even if the recommendations were all your idea, give your boss all the credit.