Monday, March 10, 2008

A Few Cups of Coffee

A Few Cups of Coffee
copyright 2008 David Clark/Cochran, Ga.
For permission to reuse, please contact the author.
P.O. Box 148 - Cochran, GA 31014

My work as a "second" for my new client took me to an interesting
meeting. There were a dozen high-powered individuals there.

I was there only as an observer. My client asked me to go so I could
better act as a sounding board on the topic.

Supposedly everyone at the table knew why we were there. It was a
friendly meeting to discuss an agreement that had supposedly already
been reached.

Within three minutes, I knew the meeting was a bust. It took an hour
and twenty minutes for the meeting to break up, because everyone at
the table kept talking, and of course four different lawyers had to
weigh in several times to further complicate the discussion.

I kept wanting to raise my hand and say: "Didn't anyone talk to
anyone else before y'all came here?" I didn't do this, of course,
though it would have saved everyone a lot of time.

My client and I walked back to his office afterwards. My client said:
"Well, what did you think about that?"

I laughed. "Well, it was a great example of what happens when a bunch
of good men assume everyone already knows what everyone else thinks."

The next day I saw another one of the men from the meeting. He and I
shared similar roles in the meeting. Neither of us was the
decision-maker but we both worked for the man who was. He said:
"Well, that meeting didn't go so well, did it? What did you think
about it?"

I said: "Well, it seems like it would have gone a whole lot smoother
if two men had shared a cup of coffee and a little conversation
before they got there."

"What do you mean? I thought they were disagreeing about the terms of
the contract."

"The contract had nothing to do with it."

"How can you say that? That's what the lawyers kept talking about."

"Yes, that's true, but that's what lawyers talk about. The real
problem was a simple human mixup. The two parties came to the table
without knowing how each other felt. All they had to do was talk
things out a bit before they got there."

He laughed. "You know, I think you're right. Both men had definite
thoughts about why they were there, but neither man knew what the
other man's thoughts were."

I've thought alot about that meeting in the last few days. I wonder
how many times a minute that same thing happens in this old world --
where two people, two neighbors, a husband and wife, two towns, two
states, two countries, two groups of any kind -- manage to assume
they already know what the other side is thinking but never take the
time to sit down and talk about it.

I know this is oversimplifying many situations. But in the last week
I've been involved in helping last week's bad meeting approach
resolution. All it took was a few cups of coffee over good
Email David Clark at , or write him at P.O.
Box 148, Cochran, Ga. 31014.

David Clark is releasing a new book called "Simply America." It is a
book of stories about our country, about freedom, about Veterans,
about people met on the road, all describing a thing very precious.

Also now available is "The Peanut Farmer Stories" and "Letters to
Cagney, Wisdom is a Deep Well." These old reader favorites have been
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