I told this guy, Brendan, that I would write about his baby bottles on my blog. Well, first I told him he had to pay me. Then he sent the bottles to me, and I liked them, so writing about them on the blog didn’t seem like it would be that difficult. Also, Brendan has been reading my blog for a long time. It felt good to tell him yes.
I told him that six months ago. During the past six months, I have told him probably fifteen times that I’ll post about his bottles the next day.
I had this idea that I’d send the bottles to my friend Caitlin to try. She has a newborn. Except that she is having a breakdown. Not a total breakdown, but the kind of breakdown that every mom with a toddler and a new baby has when she realizes that two kids is not like 1 + 1 it’s more like 1 + 10.
It took me a while to realize that I would be testing these bottles myself.
Most of us lie at some point during negotiations. Did you know that? It made me feel better to know that.
Sometimes I’d wonder: Did Brendan go to my blog and look for the post? Or did he know I was probably not going to follow through? Sometimes I’d feel sorry for Brendan that he had to deal with me. Other times, I’d think maybe he reads articles on how to negotiate with a liar, because he followed all the rules with me.
Like, you are supposed to keep being nice. Which he always was.
When I’d write: “Just one more day.”
He’d write back: “Great!”
At one point he asked me if I wanted to give him a refund. And of course I said no. And then I said, “I’ll do it this week.”
That’s another thing to do with a dishonest negotiator – give alternatives.
To be clear, I always thought I’d do the post. It’s not like I set out to be a horrible person. It just sort of happened that way.
During World War II the CIA published a Simple Sabotage Field Manual. And it turns out I’m a natural saboteur.
Like, I was really slow responding to emails, which, in World War II terms is “at the telephone switchboard, delay putting calls through.” I think the manual was written just to make me feel like I’m CIA material: “Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.”
One time Brendan sent an email to me that said his co-workers think he was stupid to pay me ahead of time. They think I’ll never post.
That really killed me. He was giving me a vote of confidence even after his co-workers ridiculed him. This is a great tactic to use with people who lie in negotiations: Reveal a little about yourself to establish rapport.
I felt like he was my friend. He probably doesn’t think we are friends, because friends don’t make friends wait ten months for blog posts. But the New York Times says that only about half of our perceived friendships are mutual, so I guess this means we really are friends.
That piece in the New York Times talks about how friendships are layered. And each layer is a different type of friendship. So probably Brendan and I have the sort of friendship that happens between a mercenary and someone who wants to save the world.
Brendan wants to save the world with his company, mimijumi. I can tell by the bottles. They are meant to feel like the breast so that mothers can go back and forth between breast and bottle without making a breast feeding fiasco. (Bottles are much easier for babies than breasts. They are the street-corner crack dealer in the breast milk neighborhood.)
The hardest thing for me about lying to Brendan so many times is that it feels lonely. The more you lie the more disconnected you feel. From yourself, or other people, or both. It’s incremental. Small lies and small disconnects. But they add up to a picture of despair.
If I had been given these bottles when I was breast feeding, I would have felt less lonely. It’s very lonely to be a new mom. It’s very lonely to be a feeding machine. And it’s scary to think you have to go months and months without a break.
Brendan has had faith in me this whole time. I’m not sure why, but it’s done for me what the bottles are meant to do for mothers: I felt like someone believed in me even when I didn’t think I could do it. Thank you, Brendan.