Money�s Not The Only Medium Of Exchange
a ground-breaking legal memoir titled �Alchemy of Race and Rights�
(Harvard University Press 1992), Columbia Law School Professor
Patricia Williams talks about lessons learned in her community�s
local barter circle.
�Once upon a time some neighbors of mine included me in their circle
of barter. They were in the habit of exchanging eggs and driving
lessons, hand-knit sweaters and computer programming, plumbing and
accepted the generosity of their inclusion with gratitude. At first,
I felt that, as a lawyer, I had nothing to contribute. What I came
to realize with time, however, was that my value to the group was
not calculated by the physical items I brought to it.
�These people included me because they wanted me to be part of their
circle, they valued my participation apart from the material things
I could offer. So I gave of myself to them, and they gave me fruit
cakes and dandelion wine and smoked salmon, and in their giving,
their goods became provisions.
�Cradled in this community whose currency was a relational ethic,
my stock in myself soared. My value depended on the glorious
intangibility, the eloquent invisibility of my just being part of
the collective, and in direct response I grew spacious and happy and
you look past the smoked salmon and the dandelion wine, you will
find the phrase �currency (of) relational ethic.� Williams is
talking about the intangible value of relations as a means of
exchange rather than, or in addition to, the numeric value of money.
We all benefit when we remind ourselves that money is simply one
medium of exchange, and certainly not the only one.
Exploration Creates New Business Opportunities
Interest-based negotiations flourish whenever parties are able to
identify tangible goods or services as well as the intangible
benefits such as recognition, respect and apologies, that might be
available to enhance a monetary exchange.
example of this occurred when AT&T was in a 1999 fight with Comcast
corporation for the acquisition of MediaOne Group. All parties were
at impasse until AT&T offered to provide Comcast with surplus AT&T
cable systems that would fill Comcast�s critical need for additional
subscribers�2 million to be exact. In exchange, Comcast withdrew its
$48 billion bid for MediaOne, leaving AT&T as the only potential
purchaser in the field.
Interest-based negotiations such as this deal go beyond evaluating
the strength of the parties� �positions� by engaging them in a
mutual exploration and assessment of everyone�s needs and
resources�a process that can create new business opportunities or
relationships that increase the value of Business A without
decreasing the value of Business B.