ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition — August 2003

In This Issue

Changing Attitudes and Accelerating Change
Coaching and Performance Reviews—Time for Some Changes
Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Negotiating for Quality
Looking Toward the Future

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Leading Wholeheartedly: A Quality Approach
Negotiating for Quality

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

Alan Kay

Negotiating for quality may sound like bobbing for apples—too chancy and not in keeping with the methodological, careful, and structured approach to creating a culture of quality. Yet, almost everything you do when you are working to persuade people to buy in and join you in a particular effort is a form of negotiation. You negotiate for time, resources, commitment, participation, etc. If you wish to create a culture of quality and relationships that produce quality results, then you will need to become a master of negotiating skills.

The French word for “manager” means to negotiate. What is a negotiation, and how does it drive quality? To negotiate is akin to navigating between the similar and conflicting needs, interests, aspirations, and values of different parties. Without an appreciation for the skill of negotiating the shoals and rough waters of meshing different people, you can run aground, and be left bereft of buy-in, participation, and commitment from those you need to produce quality services and products.

Skillful negotiation is something that Jimmy Carter has mastered. He was able to produce a high quality outcome for Egypt and Israel at Camp David, using a powerful approach and orientation. To generate quality, we must take into account the things that drive others to behave and react the way they do. We must prepare for our meetings and discussions with them, engaging them in a process of mutual learning and discovery as we craft a coherent framework for reaching agreement and commitment. How do you do this?

Start by being prepared. There is no substitute. Study those you wish to influence and step into their reality, worldview, and needs. By understanding them and taking that into account in the process, you have won half the battle. Second, keeping in mind their needs, look at yours, and look for where they dovetail. What is the bigger picture, the context that is large enough to hold both their needs and viewpoints as well as yours? If you can see the larger framework for your discussions with them, are prepared, and are ready to help them see the intersection points, then you are in a very powerful position to produce a higher quality outcome.

Third, set out your real needs and required outcomes and anticipate theirs. Don’t mistake positions for needs or initial conversation or politeness for real dialogue and agreement. You will need to show them that you understand and appreciate the pressures, challenges, needs, and goals that they have. Show them how their fundamental needs intersect with yours, and establish with them the larger context or framework for your discussions.

Fourth, invite them in compelling ways to join you in solution and idea generation. You are aiming to generate a win-win not by compromising, but by generating more creative, effective, and beneficial solutions together.

Remember, to consistently produce quality, you must be engaged in the process of quality behavior and interactions all along the way, or you create a lack of integrity in the very efforts to generate quality. Are you making yourself ready by learning how to negotiate more powerfully in order to produce better results?

ROBERT EARL (DUSTY) STAUB II is a nationally known author with two books in print and is the founder and CEO of Staub Leadership Consultants. He facilitates leadership development programs for individuals and organizations and is based in Greensboro, NC. E-mail your questions to or call 336-282-0282.

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