Unprincipled Negotiation: Dirty Tricks, Emotional Hot Buttons, and Oppression
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”
- Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Last week, I talked about pop culture and principled negotiation, which is negotiation based on set goals. In my view, this is the best way. But, sometimes, there are emotions that can get in the way of goal-setting. People usually express these emotions in their negotiation styles, and its important to be aware that these are just two styles.. The two styles are friendly and competitive. Neither of them enhance goals, but they can be important in recognizing expectations, remaining principled, and also seeing past trickery.
Characteristics of friendliness include willingness to enhance each side’s power, defining the problem as mutual, and a view that encourages agreement in attitude, beliefs, etc. It is the ability to emphasize positive aspects of others’ view. The competitive orientation comes from wanting to increase one’s own power and the belief that only one party can have power. Communication is impaired; lack of helpfulness This orientation cannot agree on goals, and sees the others' position as harmful to his/her interests. Both styles are rooted in emotions, and do not particularly help achieve goals, although as mentioned last time, these styles have roots in human needs, and does not mean that they are not valid.
It is important to understand that you as well as the other party have emotional hot buttons that if pressed can cause fear, anxiety, anger, rage, etc. It is wise to know how you will react when these buttons are pushed, so that you can control them. As an example of an emotional hot button, picture Darth Vader pushing Luke, or Khan's reckless pursuit of revenge against Captain Kirk. By the way, I'm convinced that the “conflict” between Star Wars and Star Trek was a marketing gimmick designed to sell movies and toys. Just another dirty trick to distract from the messages in both, that we can and will survive the oppressive horrors of the world.
Another thing working against principled negotiation is oppression. Oppression is the systematic limiting of someone's voice through force. Or sometimes the Force. Oppression is maintained through legitimizing myths that support cultural dominance, such as “Men are smarter than women.” "That's just how things are." or “There is only one Power in the Galaxy.” Remember that everyone wants a voice in negotiation. Distributive justice should answer the question, “Who gets what, and why?” through human needs. Victimizers are often aloof to victims needs, and may not be aware of inequality.
These oppressive mechanisms allow people to be morally excluded and often justify human atrocities. One must eliminate the myths, and focus on goal-setting based on principled negotiation. Establish mutual respect and control. Humanization of “the other” must occur, because then you will recognize them as people with real needs and goals. Curb extremists on both sides, because they will see “the other” as monsters, and will not negotiate based on others goals and needs. Lastly, you must establish rules of conduct, fair implementation, fairness in access to law, etc. equal voice in decision managing and procedural justice. Respect and mutual trusts must be in line with goals, in other words.
As mentioned, relationships balanced with trust and distrust are likely to be healthier than relationships grounded only in trust. This applies especially to business/marketplace where unquestioning trust shows naïveté. Agree explicitly on expectations. The key is that a goal should be agreed on and carried out with mutual respect. Just because you’re using principled negotiation does not mean you are passive. Yielding is important. Do not force. Also, look to objective criteria for building of trust, verify your actions, and use objective criteria in the resolution. Verify, verify, verify!
In conclusion, I would hope that this little post would bring awareness to the artistic dimension of language. Especially, where it interferes with a positive perception of reality where we can achieve our dreams in a practical manner. As good as it is to create positive myths that help us, we also need to be aware of dirty tricks designed to stop us from from our goals. The only way to break past oppressive myths is to recognize that the other person is human,with the same needs as you, and focus on reality. This doesn't mean though, that we dump our dreams: only don't go to the Dark Side.