FOR the first time I was on my own. Over the years I had worked for a large corporation, a nonprofit association, and a university. Each of these experiences developed skills that I had decided to use in launching my own consulting business. As I prepared to meet with my first prospective client, I felt some trepidation about the contract negotiating process.
Initially I reviewed the advice I had received about effective negotiating. I tried to walk mentally through the four phases of the process: preparation, opening, bargaining, followed by agreement and closing. But I knew there was an even better way to prepare. As a Christian Scientist, I've learned that by turning to God in prayer, we can gain the view of reality that Christ Jesus saw and made practical in healing.
I decided to consider each phase of the negotiating process from a spiritual basis. First, I asked myself what I knew about the person who would be on the other side of the table. I knew him to be, in truth, a unique and valued expression of God, embodying a wonderful array of God-given qualities such as intelligence, integrity, creativity, and kindness.
What did I know of this client's needs and motives? I knew we were both created and directed by God, divine Mind, in every aspect of our lives, so our true motives must be to show forth God's goodness. Each individual's fundamental needs are to know God better and love others more. I prayed to understand that the work we both were doing could help meet these needs. I prayed that I would be perceptive of the client's specific concerns and express the wisdom to address them effectively.
Considering the second phase in the negotiating process, the ``opening,'' I realized that when I began the conversation with the client, I could open with the attitude expressed in Jeremiah: ``Come, and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten'' (50:5).
Bargaining, I thought, could pose particular challenges. How would I handle disagreement? Since the same all-intelligent Mind, God, created and governs both of us, I reasoned, we each would be guided by that Mind in our discussion. I turned to a statement in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science. She writes: ``When the divine precepts are understood, they unfold the foundation of fellowship, in which one mind is not at war with another, but all have one Spirit, God, one intelligent source, in accordance with the Scriptural command: `Let this Mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus''' (p. 276).
The final phase, ``agreement and closing,'' follows successful bargaining. I prayed to understand that God's law operating in this situation would ensure good results for both of us--results based on integrity and honesty in our work. Mind's plan could simply not include loss for either of us. Whether the outcome of our negotiating was a contract or not, God is in control, blessing His creation.
As it turned out, my client and I did reach agreement. Our negotiating was spirited and surprisingly enjoyable, with respect expressed on both sides. Just as important, I have developed a new perspective as a consultant: a spiritual perspective that greatly enhances my work and, in fact, every aspect of my life.