Tag Archives: Vacation

What’s Important About That?

I met an old friend of mine for dinner the other night. He seemed really upset about something. I kept pressing for details, but he didn’t want to upset my seemingly good mood. I have been on an interesting diet lately, and many people have been telling me that I look like I’ve lost weight, so I’ve been able to act a little happier than normal. But finally, my friend caved and told me his problem.

Turns out he and his wife had been planning on taking a vacation as soon as they could get their respective vacation times at their jobs to coincide. Their bigger plan is to take on last vacation together, kind of like a second honeymoon (even though they’ve only been married 2 years) before starting to build a family.  Seems that they take a pragmatic approach. Get married. Save money. Have kids.

“So what’s the problem?” I asked. “You guys sound like you’re really together! You guys are able to plan your life together, and make your plans that that you an easily achieve them. You are a lot better than most people. Most people shoot first, then maybe think about aiming in couple weeks. What gives?”

After my friend explained his problem to me, I understood. It seems that they both had their respective hearts set on a specific vacation place. And they both assumed that the other person had agreed to go to their place. And when they sat down to plan their fun, they realized that they weren’t on the same page. And since they both kind of viewed this as a ‘last vacation together’ kind of thing, neither of them wanted to budge.

Which is interesting in and of itself. Most people can make plans, and then follow through. But we can run into problems when you don’t communicate well with others who will be involved in those plans. It’s like when other people don’t object, we assume that they will go along with us. I reminded my friend about this, as raising a kid requires that you be flexible and communicate well. I asked my friend that since they were both guilty of the same thing, if they could compromise.

“What do you mean, compromise?” My friend asked. “I want to go here, and she wants to go there. They are totally different. One person has to lose for the other to win.” Aha. I thought I saw the problem.

I was reminded of a business negotiation seminar I took. We would role play being different business situations, and practice these negotiation skills. For example, a Union Boss would want more health benefits, more vacation time, and higher pay. The Business Manager would want to save money wherever possible. The trick in being a negotiator, was to keep asking “What’s important about that?” Until you got a point where the Union Boss and the Business Manager could find a solution that would satisfy both of their respective deeper needs.  

For example, the Union Boss’s underlying concern was that the workers would realize that the company was serious about taking care of them, as the increases in health benefits and wages were really only symbolic. And the Business Manager was concerned with the long term growth of the company. As a ‘pretend’ negotiator, I explained to the Union Boss that the more stable the Business manager thought the future of the company was, the more willing he’d be to extend their long term contracts. And I explained to the Business Manager that by giving just a little bit of a raise, they would be much more willing to lock in that rate if it were for an extended contract period.

It was an interesting seminar that taught a lot about negotiating, and the importance of communication. Especially when you are able to find out what’s important to the people you care about, so when you make plans for the future, you can be sure to involve everyone.

I explained this to my friend, and we actually role played a few scenarios between him and his wife.  After a few practice rounds, he was convinced that they would be able to find a new place which would satisfy both their vacations needs for their second honeymoon. 

They invited me over to dinner a few days later. I tepidly asked them about their vacation, hoping I wasn’t precluding myself from any future dinners by starting world war three.

They both immediately broke into huge grins. Aha! I thought to myself. Maybe they would at least give me partial credit for solving their marital problems. Where would they go? Greece? Italy? Mexico? Maybe they’d let me house sit. They have a really nice, really HUGE flat screen HD TV.

“We canceled our vacation!”


“We decided to put the money into an extra room. We’re building a nursery!”