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challenge the status quo of an organization or to offer an alternative viewpoint with the
capacity to excite and change.
In a Harvard Business Review article, Selling Is Not About Relationships, the authors
identify challengers, who are individuals imbued with an appreciative capacity; “who win by
pushing customers to think differently, using insight to create constructive tension in the
sale” and these individuals dramatically outperform all categories including problem solvers,
relationship builders, lone wolves, and hard workers (Dixon & Adamson, 2011). The
challengers, endowed with an appreciative capacity, are seen as dominating sales because
they teach their customers how to save or make money -- or in Bill’s case understand
music or in Carol’s becoming more familiar with production. In addition, “They are
comfortable with tension and are unlikely to acquiesce to every customer demand. When
necessary, they can press customers a bit not just in terms of their thinking but around
things like price” (Dixon & Adamson, 2011).
The traditional view of negotiation, as a form of persuasive argument, is more dynamic and
satisfying when we shift to a dialogic approach where we recognize the need of the other
to make meaning (McNamee, 2004, p. 272). Even after the freelancer has negotiated the
contract, the ability to be involved in relationship with the client often requires prescriptive
conversations to make sure everyone is on the same page. Carol tells the story of dealing
with a complicated micromanager where they shared a transformative moment:
“It involves someone who is a completely neurotic micromanager and fails to see how
his decisions are creating chaos on the set. Somehow it’s my fault. The thing
about this guy is that he’s not a bad person. Outside the work place, he’s a funny
nice guy that I could have a beer with. His methodologies are really messed up. If I
let myself get upset, I would be in a perpetual state of disarray. My attitude is that I
listened to all his criticism and said, ‘I want to make this better for you.’ Then he was
kind of stymied when I asked him to delineate what wasn’t working for him. In an
open friendly way, I said, ‘if you can help me understand what I’m not doing then I’ll
try my best to do that.’ Then he finally admitted that maybe it was just me (LAUGHS).
Personal growth moment.”
There is no doubt that listening, but more importantly being heard, is primary to any
negotiated or transformative experience. Linda Putnam, a communications expert,
describes the transformative moment in the conflict process as one which offers new
understandings or interpretations of events and states: “New interpretations of relationships
might stem from enhanced learning, connecting to each other in different ways, and
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