Know Your Negotiating Partner: Boom, Gen X, Gen Y

See also the power point slide taken from Tom Baldwin’s blog, KnowledgeLine based upon a presentation given at Shepard Mullin by Dr. Larry Richard of Hildebrandt International.

These, of course, are stereotypes.  An attempt to get at a generalized truth about groups of people whether they be based on age, gender or astrological sign (this is Hollywood after all).

Dr. Richard’s chart reminds me of a story one of my early mentors, Bob Badal, now at Heller Ehrman, liked to tell about Hierarchical Animal Species charts.

(Neek! #7 by Peter Renshaw)”The tiger is faster; the elephant bigger; the camel better suited to survive,” Bob would say. “The dog is more loyal; the house cat  more peaceful; the grizzly bear more ferocious.  And yet man is at the top of the chart.  Why?  (beat) Because man drew the chart.”

We can only assume the chart at bottom was drawn by boomers — still convinced the previous generation was more responsible and its war more noble than any we’d ever be called upon to support;  sufficiently enamoured of our own idealism and work ethic to make special mention of it; and suspicious of those who follow at our heels — Gen X lacking the loyality gene and Gen Y — “our” children — spoiled and self-centered.

Why bother with these stereotypes when negotiating?

First, they’e OUR stereotypes and we should be alert to our own pre-judgments lest we mis-judge the unique individual on the other side of the bargaining table.

Second, they may contain a kernal of truth that might help us understand our negotiation partner at those moments when we’re asking ourselves “what could she possibly mean by that?”

Of course the best way to know those with whom we negotiate is to ask a lot of questions. 

Still, for what it’s worth, I provide the Generational matrix which many people believe represent defining characteristics of our fellows based upon the years during which they were born and the eras in which they came of age.

Thanks Tom!


Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

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