There's a lot of talk these days about bipartisanship, as if horsetrading is a high human ideal.
When I'm negotiating with someone—over the price of a car, who will cover the travel expenses, or what we'll have for dinner—part of my agenda is to make sure the other fellow has gotten his. I try not to enter into any negotiation where I don't believe the other person has a good chance of getting as much out of it as I do.
But more than that: I want the end result of every conversation to end justly and right in the long run: for me, for him—and for you and you and you. It doesn't always happen, but it's always the goal. When it happens, you know. And when it doesn't, you know that too.
This, I call kindred communication, the idea that every negotiation, and I've been having a lot of them lately, takes place in a larger context of a human society that is made less cohesive when someone puts the screws to someone else, when someone gives up too much out of a moment's desperation, when a lopsided deal is made and then painfully lived with.
Bad contracts written and verbal, spoken and unspoken, give rise to rancor, resentment, fear and contempt that affects many people outside the negotiating parties. And good contracts, meanwhile, hold our world together and give us what little security and stability we have.
My chronic mistake is that I foolishly believe (and learn otherwise, and then believe again) that everyone else shares this idea, which I came to naturally, smugly assume is self-evident and keep to myself.
Them's my terms, people, take 'em or leave 'em.