To dismiss positions, parties, and interests that we’d rather not acknowledge exist in the first place, is a sign of the inability to negotiate deeply.
The terms that are used to dismiss those positions, parties, and interests that we’d rather not acknowledge exist in the first place, include (but aren’t limited to) “Well, the consensus is…,” or “The conventional wisdom says…,” or my personal favorite “Everybody knows that…”
When a dismissal is preceded by any of these three statements, it reveals a lack of empathy, curiosity, or even ability, to get inside another party’s mental model of how “the world” works. Such dismissals also reveal a deeper fear: That maybe our own position really isn’t as black and white as we think that it is; and, that disagreement, dispute, or dismissal of our own position by the other party, might be on the horizon.
A dismissal in a negotiation, indicates that we have made the negotiation less about accomplishing goals, getting to agreement around interests, and establishing common ground. Instead, a dismissal shows that we have made the negotiation content personal, the desire for a favorable outcome for us paramount, and that there is emotional residue that we must address on our own part.
Hiding behind conventional wisdom, making appeals to “what everybody knows” to be “true,” or drawing on consensus to persuade, is not a sign of confidence in our own position. Instead, it’s a rallying cry for someone to come and support our right position and to negate the other party’s wrong position.
In negotiations around value based interests, the ability to empathize (but not agree) with the other party, and to do so using language that elevates supporters and reassures detractors, is the sign of a true statesman.
How many statesmen are in your workplace?
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: firstname.lastname@example.org