By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – One of the first life lessons anyone learns is how to negotiate for things.

If they’re being raised properly, toddlers quickly realize that throwing a tantrum just gets them time out. Making friends as you get a bit older teaches you the rules of give and take.

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When you enter the adult world, you find that almost everything is a negotiation. And sometimes, when you don’t immediately get what you want, you take what you can get, declare victory, and come back for the rest later.

Just ask Gov. Deval Patrick.

His negotiating skills have been sharpened in a variety of ways, as a black teen in an almost all-white academic world, as a successful lawyer in both public and private sectors, and as governor.

He speaks with authority on the topic.

So I noted with interest his comments on CNN Sunday, when he said that the proper response to public outcry over the obvious problems between police and the black community must go beyond just changes in public policy.

We need better listening skills, he said, “not just in government,” but also “among average citizens. And we’re going to have to listen a lot more closely to each other.”

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And the governor doesn’t think organizers of the recent protests in Boston have proven to be part of the solution.

“We went to great lengths to try to connect” with them, he said, but “they weren’t interested in engagement, because part of the point was to be disruptive. And I think it does beg some questions, what is it we’re trying to accomplish beyond disruption?”

The protests have gotten attention; people are listening to the valid complaints they raise.

But Gov. Patrick raises an interesting point when he asks: is this listening process a two-way street?

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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Jon Keller