The Seductive Art of Negotiation

Copyright 2011 Tutivillus

Preface: Before you begin

Sit across the table from a Person of Interest and pay attention to what your mind does. If you’ve never met this person in the flesh, what’s the first thing you notice? Is it a physical trait? Their eyes? A curve? Lips, hair, ass? What about the sound of their voice? Or the way they walk? Do you pay attention to the warmth of their hand as you take it? Maybe their scent as you share a brief, friendly embrace.

If you’ve met them online, you may know what they choose to share, but you haven’t had the chance to pull in a full experience of that person. Now, while they are in front of you, your senses begin to gather everything, fill the gaps and complete the impression you will carry.

They are doing the same thing, at the same time from their point of view.

So, what’s important here?

This is going to be a Negotiation. Someone may eventually take the roll of Dominant, someone may eventually take the roll of submissive. How do you make the most of every second, learn and gather the greatest amount in the least amount of time?

It starts with a few simple courtesies and common practices.

Touch and Proximity

Most of us have a sense of personal space. When we meet someone who may become important to us our senses are on high alert. That sense of proximity is especially sensitive. Before you touch, hug, move close?

Ask.

“May I give you a hug?”

“While we talk about this, may I take your hand?”

“Would you mind if I put this claw on my finger and scratch your thigh?”

Ask.

It lays the groundwork for Trust and sets the tone of the negotiation. It’s also the best way to proceed without misunderstanding. It shows confidence and consideration.

Active Listening

Listen before forming a response. Taking mental notes. When responding using what was said to create an understanding. “I” statements and neutral language. These are all crucial tools used in Active Listening. Negotiation itself is about fluid communication. It will change and evolve throughout it’s lifetime, roll with it while being in touch with what you’re hearing, seeing and feeling. It validates that person across the table from you and, in their eyes, validates you.

During Negotiation, Everyone Has A Voice! Use it!

It doesn’t matter what role will be assumed. The end goal doesn’t matter. Negotiation is your time to speak, set expectations, voice desires, explore, fantasize and place limits. Never be afraid to speak at this time, it’s your right and it’s not only expected, it’s appreciated!

Broken Boundaries = NO

This one’s simple. Follow it, memorize it, worship it.

If someone crosses a boundary you are not comfortable with during negotiation, TELL THEM. Once may be a mistake. If they do it again? End it.

Easy. Keep these in mind and place them in play. You’ll never regret it and your negotiations will become so very much easier.

Tongues and Paper

At the tender age of First Play I had no idea of Negotiation and its meanings. I knew only “Do this!” and the actions that followed. Everything was unscripted, raw and fueled by adrenaline, stupidity and young lust.

Some time during the growing years a script appeared out of nowhere. I don’t know who wrote it. I don’t know where it came from, but it was there and it was full of “Choose Your Own Adventure” peels and turns. It had blank spots for me to fill and it was frustratingly vague.

The script was not the “Owners Manual to Male Sexuality and Dating”. It was more like a badly constructed slide presentation from the makers of an Infomercial failure. I grabbed a pen (should have been a pencil…they have erasers) and got to work.

I can proudly say that as I enter the 4th decade I have no fucking clue as to what I’m doing. I just know how to negotiate what I want and that’s what I want to pass on.

Want/Desire

When was the last time you wanted something, badly? You wanted it, but the other people involved in your “want” had other visions. That collective vision shifted what you wanted into something you participated in with less enthusiasm than you had when the initial excitement burned hard in your imagination.

Disappointed? Sure. It’s natural. Excitement and desire carries us away at times. It takes effort and careful measure (that’s Discipline to you and me) to control those emotions and reign them in. But how do we control them and not deflate the fun?

This may shock you a little, but you can have control, discipline and fun with…Compromise.

The hell you say?

Follow my logic before you burn the article.

Most of us look at compromise as taking a whole, tearing it apart and using the bits to piece together some abomination that’s a half-assed representation of the original construct. Why? Because it’s the only way to “keep the peace”. The path to happiness is a long and twisted road that gives all travelers sore feet and simply makes them grateful for a place to sit (the destination no longer being important).

That’s really not the best way to look at compromise, especially when negotiating. If you start with something grandiose, then yes, you’ll likely have to do some deconstruction before you actually make any progress.

“I want to do a scene where I tie you up with 27 (not 25) sparklers tied in your hair, suspend you exactly 6 and a half feet from the floor, flog you 323 times, paddle you (with my oak Frat paddle) exactly 27 times and then! (as the sparklers sputter) I will cut the ropes, dropping you into a small wading pool full of monkey urine (imported from the dark jungles of southern Madagascar).”

Yeah…chances are you’re gonna lose something if you start off with that. However…

“How would you feel about mixing rope, suspension and sparklers?”

…it’s a better foundation. You’re presenting key elements, starting simple and giving the person your negotiating with a chance to sound off. There’s also a good chance the two of you could build something even better than you first imagined.

“Sparklers? Hell, I’ve always wanted to shoot bottle rockets out my ass!” (Don’t try that…it’s a literary example…just to illustrate a point.)

Want is good. It’s great! Getting everyone to start wanting, desiring the same outcome? Better.

Building Trust

Once that common ground is found and a base constructed you need to create a structure. The structure is Trust. It’s a simple thing, fragile at first, then it becomes complex and a central support for any relationship. Violate trust and something dies; rebuilding sucks and is best avoided. What I’m about to write is only a few of the common sense methods used to create trust in a relationship.

  • Start simple and go from there. If you are spending moments with a person to discuss mutual desires and goals, there’s a good chance that you will have time to build — if everything clicks.
  • Follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, take a step back. If the other person gets impatient and walks, it was not meant to be.
  • If it feels wrong, walk. Thank them for their time, be courteous, leave as a friend or at least an ally.
  • If it all feels great? Go with the natural pace, force nothing.
  • If the other person has a difficult time establishing trust or boundaries, create a few exercises to help create them.
  • Be very clear about what you are wanting, what you expect and the roles each should fill.
  • Follow through – Always. What ever you say, what ever you say your are going to do…DO IT!
  • Respect. Respect. Respect! No matter what the role, respect!

Paper?

In our world there are precious few laws constructed to protect, but a paper trail has never hurt…if you’re the one with the paper. Also (and more importantly), it makes a great reference! Especially if you have more than one play partner. You never want to be in the position of mixing hard limits…it’s awkward and often leads to swearing.

Get a good notebook, a pen and keep track of your negotiations. Don’t be obsessive about your notes. Just write down the important points and keep them handy.

“But I…”

There’s a two-edged sword to all of this negotiation, it’s avoidable, but not many people consider it until they’ve been cut. I’m going to put it out there, so everyone can take appreciation of its naked simplicity.

Do not try to re-negotiate a scene while that scene is underway!

Is that difficult to understand? No? Then why the hell do so many people do it? If you are unsure of something that may or may not be a boundary then one of two things are happening:

  1. You are second guessing yourself (knock it off!)
  2. You didn’t negotiate this part of the scene

If you’re suffering from number 1, either stop now or do a very quick check in with your partner.

“Are you okay with this?”

If yes, keep going and trust them.

If no, stop the scene.

If you’re suffering from number 2, then you’ve got a choice. You can either follow the steps above or stop the scene once it enters unfamiliar territory.

Under no circumstances do you ever (as Top or bottom) try to re-negotiate limits, boundaries or scene parameters once said scene is underway!

I don’t care how hot the chemistry is or how many people are watching or how badly you want to get into that person…if it’s a limit, then it’s NO.

Example: You’re going to do a scene that involves penetration. It has been made very clear that protection MUST be used, but when the time comes you just don’t feel like it goes with the spirit of the scene. You whisper into your partner’s ear and try to convince them to forgo said “rainhat”.

Congratulations, you are not only a douche, but also deserve a complimentary burning at the stake.

It does not matter whether you are the Top or the bottom. If you’ve both agreed on the scene and it has begun, that is what you’re doing! You both have the option to end it if it’s not what you want and you can both fine tune it, later, to make it into something that works for you.

Note: I realize there are MANY who will take exception to this…that is okay. We all learn where our comfort levels are. Shifting focus during a scene and carrying a consenting partner with you is an advanced skill and does not, in my opinion, fall under “renegotiation during a scene”.

Go…

These are just the basics. I may have presented them lightheartedly, but that does not mean it’s not a serious topic. Whether the process takes five minutes on the fly or months of meetings, negotiation is at the core of what we do. It should be habit, make it so.

Negotiation is discovery. It’s learning about the inner workings of another person; listening to intimate details they will not share with more than a handful of others. It is exciting and it is beautiful. Learn to embrace it.

You will be rewarded.

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