Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Stupid Mediator Tricks (3)

Something Mnookin points out in Beyond Winning grabbed my attention. He stated that a productive negotiating posture for parties to adopt is to maintain a dynamic between assertiveness and empathy.

You should maintain assertiveness when stating your own interests and objectives, showing that you take them and your arguments seriously. You should maintain empathy for the other party when the other party negotiates, to understand the other party's interests and objectives by adopting the other party's perspective, seeing what the negotiating table looks like from the other side. I was struck because this same dynamic between assertiveness and empathy was what I have been telling my son is the the essence of leadership.

There is precious little leadership training in high school. This is not viewed as an academic subject, at least for students at this age. Doesn't make sense to me because I find it interesting to discuss with my son.

I might have a conversation with my son that goes like this: what would make people want to listen to you and follow your recommendations? By making sure, first, that you really know who it is you are talking to and where they are coming from, so that you understand their questions or needs in the way that they feel or understand them; and, second, by not being wimpy about where you stand and what you think. Thoughtful yes, but wimpy no. (But don't go over the top).

So now, I think I am going to start some mediations by saying I am looking for some leadership to be able to settle this conflict. Ah, making leaders, that's what mediators do.

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