New Civilization News: Negotiating Style - Observations from a Political Convention    
 Negotiating Style - Observations from a Political Convention4 comments
24 Mar 2004 @ 11:00, by Craig Lang

Last weekend, I attended the local DFL (Democratic-Farm-Labor party, the Democratic party in Minnesota) convention, where we selected delegates to the state and congressional-district conventions. Politics is always a fascinating thing both to participate in, and to observe, and this time was no exception. At this convention, I noted some very interesting dynamics between the people involved.

On several occasions in the past year I have noticed the difference between when results are obtained, and when they're not. And at the DFL convention, I saw this same dichotomy. And it reminded me alot of what I have read in books by both Steven Covey and Daniel Goleman.

What was this difference? It appeared to be the spirit with which one approached the issue. Was it a spirit of confrontation - Win/Lose - Me vs You? Or was it a spirit of "let's make a deal" - Win/Win? As you can probably guess, the ones who succeeded were the ones who practiced Win/Win thinking.

That was the thing I have most noticed about those who have been elected to political office, vs those who have not. And it looked to me like the separator of those who were selected as delegates to the state convention, vs those who were not. As a general rule, those who formed a Win/Win consensus - who made a deal in which everybody got what they wanted - have been the ones who have ended up advancing in some way. Like something straight out of 7-Habits by Steven Covey, these are the leaders, the ones who help bring the process together and make it work.

My conclusion was that while many politicians may seem very confrontational at times - especially during public speeches, when the fine art of negotiation begins, more often than not they use win-win thinking to actually obtain a desired result.

The book "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman talks alot about the emotion and empathy in negotiation. And I saw this in action on Saturday, whether deliberately, or simply as an inherent skill in some people. It was the ability to recognize and address the needs of others in the process of addressing your own that made things work. To get what you want, give others what they want. When both parties feel that they have the support of the other, then the system works.

It seemed to be a classic example of what Covey teaches, that those who think win-win and seek consensus are more likely to succeed, while those who stick to confrontation are far less likely to gain their desired result.


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4 comments

24 Mar 2004 @ 20:52 by martha : win-win
I agree with what you have written Craig but of course the larger picture is what does one agree to and still have integrity. It's one thing to be a yes person but quite another to stand up for one's convictions. is this really winning at any cost?
I have also read both books (quite a few years ago) and I agree with the basic premise but I think it has gone crazy in politics right now. Most of the win-win is with the corporations and those with money...not the common person. This is where the disconnect is occuring. Where is the integrity?  



25 Mar 2004 @ 09:31 by craiglang : The question is win-win with whom?
...is probably the biggest question.

Most of what I saw was within the party - with the primary objective of keeping the machinery moving. When we get to the outside world, dealing with the dark side, that's a different question.

In some cases, I think you're right - the best course of action is to stand and fight(!) I think that gets to alot of big questions that have bedeviled pacifists for most of the modern era. What do you do when confronted with intractible evil.

This probably is dependent upon the question of whether the situation calls for negotiation, or for battle... (!)
When there really is no common objective - when one interest is mutually exclusive with another, then the question is whether there really is a win-win objective. And probably what you are referring to falls into that category. Then what I was describing might not apply.

But then again...
At least when looking at it from the perspective of the eastern tradition, we are actually all one unity - there is really only one consciousness of which we are each one aspect. So in that sense, perhaps we can think of having a common interest - even with "them".  



25 Mar 2004 @ 10:25 by martha : In the long run
we have to answer to our soul of the life we live is with integrity or not. There is also no escaping the fact then when we die the only thing we take with us is soul/spirit and how we have used our energy...and yes we are all connected...LOL
So in fact I do not believe in win-win unless integrity is connected.  



25 Mar 2004 @ 15:15 by craiglang : Agreed
I think I understand what you're saying.

To me, one of the hall marks of whether I lived with integrity was whether in that situation I both stood for what was right, and what was fair to all. If I kept integrity by doing the right thing, while helping someone else, then IMHO that is the best for all concerned. And to me, that is win-win.

If what I achieve is at someone else's expense, then have I really won?

Unless, of course, the objectives are mutually exclusive - perhaps the other party is fundamentally evil - for example, taking the world political situation in late 1941. I don't think there really was any win-win solution there. The only way out was war, a purely win-lose proposition.

Where I find the Covey philosophy really works best, is in the smaller picture. Examples are in business, and making the basic machinery of the political party work.

I think that your thoughts about integrity are fully compatible, and I really like them.
Thanx for the observations,
-Craig  



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