Playgotiation™ – Building the Relationship Map

We’ve already talked about Maps of the World, and the fact that each of us has one. Since we each have a unique take on reality, a unique way of filtering our experiences, how can we form relationship, marriages, companies, partnerships of any kind? We create a new map to correspond to the way we overlap. Just as a couple consists of “person 1” and “person 2” (and, depending on your inclination, “person 3”, “person 4” and so on!), once they decide to form a relationship that’s “durable”, we also create a map of our shared reality, our shared experience, values, beliefs, and so forth.

“Durable”? What do we mean by that? There are relationships you may establish which are incidental, in the moment, based on some shared experience, and won’t last. One example is a group of people waiting in line. You share the experience of needing to do something, you share that you must wait your turn, and likely none of you are thrilled by having to wait. You have a lot in common, it would seem, in that moment. Once you’ve all reached the front of that line, done whatever it is you were waiting for, how likely are you to stay in touch? Wait, before you answer, did you have this experience? Graduating from High School, you formed bonds with your classmates, and somehow, the end of this shared period in your life becomes suddenly melancholy. You hug, you shake hands, you vow to stay in touch. But do you? Not typically. But that relationship in many cases has lasted four years. But when you move on, you let go. There are several terms for this kind of relationship, but we can agree to call it “transitory”. It lasted as long as the conditions upon which it was based continue.

Once that line is gone, we in many cases don’t even remember that we talked with those other people. I had this literal experience at a well-known bakery on the route from Austin to Dallas, once. The Czech Stop is in the small East Texas town called West. Southwest of Dallas, but not west enough to justify the name, it would seem. As a lover of irony, I appreciate that. The place is famous for its bread and baked sweets, and there is often a line. I walked in, grabbed a loaf of jalapeno bread (it’s really, really good) and got in line. A few minutes passed with people checking their smartphones occasionally. Assessing the people around me, I noticed the woman ahead of me held a loaf of potato bread. I turned to her and commented, “If the bread wasn’t so darn good, it wouldn’t be worth it, huh?”

“Dang right,” she said, “I’d drive 100 miles to get this potato bread. That one’s good, too.” She nodded at my own bread with a big smile. We had established in that moment a transitory relationship. One that would last about as long as it took to pay for our bread, but not much longer. There would be no reason to connect or form any collective identity, a shared map, because the relationship, such as it was, would not last.

On the other hand, we may call a relationship “durable” when it transcends the moment. When we have a reason to stay in touch and do. But at that point, since we now must confront the obvious, that we are two or more different people, we have to resolve our differences, at least as far as they impact this relationship.

So let’s say you’ve decided this relationship is “durable” and you begin to share your respective Maps of the World. But wait, you found a problem. There is at least one major difference in beliefs or values that creates. a likely challenge to the relationship. Do you just blow it off, figuring it never had a chance? Maybe, but you don’t have to. There is a process you can undertake in which you negotiate those differences. Because I like taking the “negative” out of “negotiation”, I like to call it “Playgotiation™”. Even in a business context, Playgotiation™ makes sense, as most of my clients report that replacing “neg-” with “play” makes it seem less confrontational, almost a collaborative effort. Which any really balanced negotiation will be.

So as you identify your respective Maps of the World and you spot the red flag discrepancies, it’s time to evaluate the emerging relationship. Is it worth a little work (or play, as the case may be)? If so, it’s time to use a little Playgotiation™. We can explore that in a later article, but for now, just know that it can be done and if you’re motivated, it can be a lot of fun and result in a really rich and exciting relationship.

And doesn’t that sound like fun!

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