Sunday, February 25, 2024

Assumptions to unlock better answers and healthier relationships: Gv Ravishankar MD, Peak XV

Imagine discussing with recruiters about salary negotiations. They are willing to give you a 5% raise but you demand a 30% raise. How do you both come to a common mutual ground where both the recruiter’s and yours match? You may assume the HR is too rude or and find it hard to come out of the box. However, what can help you come out of this situation is the negotiation and managing your lens of assumptions.

Confused how to do this?

To help you give a better understanding of this, we’ve created a gist from “Unopened Windows” authored by GV Ravishankar, Managing Director at Peak XV Partners. He shares an interesting story on assumptions to unlock better answers and foster healthier relationships that facilitate producing more informed solutions. Dig in to find the treasure trove of mind-changing perspectives.

Negotiating for Good

To highlight the significance of negotiation, GV Ravishankar shares his experience during his postgraduate program at IIM Ahmedabad wherein an exercise was given to the class which was divided into three smaller teams.

Each team received a document outlining the specific role they were assigned to play. Team 1 represented a pharmaceutical company that used watermelons to produce a drug to cure a rare and dangerous infection; Team 2 represented a dermatology company that used watermelons to produce lotion to heal the severely damaged skin of soldiers wounded in battle and get them back on the battlefield.

Since the task’s ultimate goal was a noble cause, the supplier asked groups to mutually agree on which group should receive all the produce. Both teams were confronted with the negotiation as a deficit of a single watermelon would affect the production of the required products.

The negotiation went on for 20 minutes. From these three primary groups, only one successfully concluded the negotiation within the allotted time—Mr. Ravishankar happened to be a member of that team. The professor asked how the team was able to convince them; they simply said, “There was no conflict to solve, as we could split the produce.”

Simply put, the pharmaceutical company needed watermelon seeds to make the drug, and the other company needed the skin fruit to produce the lotion. Both companies needed entire lots of watermelons, but different parts. This constituted a minor yet noteworthy detail, explicitly outlined in the documents distributed to the teams at the commencement of the activity.

The group that succeeded was the one that approached the negotiation without assuming that this was a zero-sum game. The group started out wanting to win, but during the negotiations, they became more open to finding a solution for the other side as well, if possible. This allowed the team to truly understand that there was a win-win solution possible: an ‘and’ answer versus an ‘or’ answer. They managed to open an unopened window by letting go of assumptions.

The Boon and Bane of Assumptions

Assumptions are the mother of all mistakes. There are various examples where people assume and restrict their thought process, especially when they are unfairly treated or believe adverse events. This results in getting entangled in the blame game where the problem is deemed “not with us” and we assume to pander to our egos or expectations.

This implies that people usually aren’t scheming against us or trying to hold us back. Consider Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which you can adequately ascribe to stupidity.” If someone has hurt you, it’s likely unintentional.

By citing examples from Rising Strong by renowned author Brené Brown, Mr. Ravishankar stresses the implication of “The Story I’m Telling Myself” as a potent tool for effective communication and conflict resolution. This concept allows individuals to articulate their emotions and perspectives by presenting them as narratives rather than assumed facts. This method fosters a shared understanding, minimizing the likelihood of misunderstandings and conflicts. Mr. Ravishankar finds this approach to be a valuable tool in navigating conflicts within relationships.

“Assumptions are the windows to the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” Isaac Asimov

To conclude, Mr. GV Ravishankar’s essay gives us a thought-provoking piece about knocking on doors on assumptions and nurturing healthier relationships. By embracing this mindset, individuals and organizations can navigate complexities, foster innovation, and build stronger, more resilient connections.

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