You And What Army? How To Neutralize Conflict and Negotiate Justice for the Totally Outgunned, Inwardly Timid, Burnt Out or Socially Defunct by Lisa Bracken

You And What Army?

How to Neutralize conflict and Negotiate Justice

for the Totally Outgunned, Inwardly Timid,

Burnt Out or Socially Defunct 

Excerpts of first three chapters:

  Introduction: Standing Tall 

  Negotiation: Benefiting From Gauged and Shepherded Solutions 

  The Negotiation Process: Preparation and Practice 

  

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The Negotiation Process: Preparation and Practice

 

Negotiation, particularly evolved negotiation, involves much more than two parties facing off and hoping to arrive at a mutually acceptable conclusion. Understanding the basis of dispute; engaging an evolutionary process; suggesting negotiations as a vehicle of resolution; and, preparing an environment of accord are all important aspects of constructing even a simple, successful exchange.

This chapter presumes you have elected to engage evolved negotiations as a means of resolution and introduces foundational aspects inherent to its overall conduct, including:

● Understanding the need for, process of, and driving force behind an evolved negotiation campaign;

● Preparing for opportunities to work with your adversary;

● Fortifying your argument and its defense;

● Navigating around and beyond the first move; and,

● Structuring compromise.

Launching an evolved negotiation campaign

Because an evolved approach to negotiations means endeavoring to meet short-term needs within an extended timeline toward a more distant overarching objective, full regard for the extended process serves as an overview and foundation upon which smaller, target-specific efforts may be launched.

Throughout human history, people have created, refined and adapted to systems designed to advance civilization. From vital resources, such as water and productive agriculture to energy; housing; and, personal health… from defense; transportation; and, communication to bodies of law and political representation, these systems are vulnerable to manipulation by forces seeking to control them and therefore control those implicated within them.

Those who gain control over such systems strive to make them more predictable; they strive to make products, services, processes and information more conveniently integrated into and inextricable from our daily lives; they seek to make demand more entrenched; competitive environments more subject to control, more subject to tempered or chaotic conditions conducive to profit and, therefore, more profitable for themselves.

This reflects a naturally competitive impulse among all living things intended to win greater personal security through the control of one’s environment. However, our human ability to efficiently manipulate, associate and force movement in a particular direction doesn’t always work toward our collective benefit and certainly not our sustainability and therefore evolution. Rather, it can compel us to compete to the point of excess, without benefit of a balancing cooperative factor.

In our interest to control, we may manipulate or destroy information representing truthful circumstances and we may block others’ access to it; we may corrupt politics and law; curtail regulation; aggressively block the development of alternatives; and, lure or force science, education, innovation, laws and elected representatives into aligned compliance with singular objectives, benefiting an associated few possessing the power to do so. These associated few tend to represent commerce and/or governance in their most destructive forms.

When institutions and mechanisms of evolution otherwise possessed of independent but relative purpose, begin to exclusively serve a singular interest, such as commerce, systems collapse, inviting even greater competition and conflict among those voluntarily or involuntarily subscribed to such systems. Disruption reigns until a newly adaptive arrangement can be secured and a new system emerges and settles into place, inviting manipulation and advancing the same destructive process, urging adaptation under great duress.

This is how we move forward in lurches while positioning ourselves for swift and final regression. If we are unable to efficiently and successfully adapt within a self-imposed degrading environment, we drive ourselves into extinction. We remove our entire species as a point of system failure, self-ejecting from an overly manipulated, spent environment which then invites new species to work within existing conditions and develop their own systems.

An evolved approach can forestall the conflict associated with failed systems and provide for more symbiotic, gradual, far more productive transformation infused with the extraordinary power of balance and cooperation toward fairly considered objectives.

This isn’t just how we can cope with today. It is also how we can get to tomorrow and beyond.

The universe seeks attunement through balance in order to sustain itself. As an integral component of the universe, we too, must accept the benefits of gradual attunement or suffer catastrophic consequences represented by extreme and sudden course correction. We do indeed have a choice in such matters. For those who are oppressed by failed systems, evolved negotiation offers outstanding opportunities to revise the entire framework of conflict as well as one’s role in it, all the while preserving important, functioning systematic infrastructure serving sustainable growth… regardless of whether that growth is intellectual or physical in its manifestation… regardless of whether it is individualized or collective.

Unbalanced, protracted, complex conflicts can benefit greatly from an evolved approach inclusive of all
realms of influence bearing in concert upon conditions which have given conflict rise.

When social change becomes an integrated component of an evolved negotiation as a means of inspiring and engaging in negotiation, certain steps tend to accompany successful steerage of these types of conflicts toward greater stability; development of their resolution potential; and, actuation of sustainable accord.

Often, such steps involve the quest to defend or re-secure unalienable human rights. Such efforts are unfortunately often met with varying degrees of fear, resistance, hostility, hatred, abuse and turmoil. However… measured, balanced, well-conceived and selfless investment in both our own as well as our collective evolution has always given humanity our soundest foundation, allowing us to put our surest foot forward through time.

The more it is resisted… the greater the call for investment in faith, understanding, tolerance, and sacrifice for and toward peace… and the greater is its own reward. Undoubtedly, others’ investments made toward our own human rights continue to enlighten us, inspire us and allow us to defend those of ourselves and future generations.

Faith, understanding, tolerance, and sacrifice are also natural impulses toward security. Peace can, indeed, beget sustainability and greater security. But, we often allow selfish tendency to skew our perception of what is extreme. When we share a common view of ourselves, even extreme behavior can seem moderate under the influence of group acceptance. Our cultures and our subscriptions then dictate our behavior – which could usually benefit from much greater examination of motive and a much greater dedication to broadly cooperative social action.

Self-concerned needs, when fairly sought, can infuse negotiation with important forward momentum and personal incentive… but the greatest evolved negotiation campaigns compel a driving undercurrent of selflessness, and benefit enormously from such a source of inspiration.

The facets reflected in an evolved approach are certainly subject to the dynamics of strategy. As such, they can selectively vary, are often revisited, and may be implemented to varying degrees and consistencies

Nonetheless, the persistence of oppressive conditions and the persistent desire to implement positive change produce, in tandem, an unmitigated trend toward transformation, however strategic, selective or temporarily halting.

When these facets are ordered sequentially and engaged fully and repetitively, they become a multidimensional process and take on a more rounded form, more fully reflective of each facet.

In consideration of such a process, each of the fifteen primary steps involved are reflected below.

I have identified, then, an emergent pattern of grand transformation repeating throughout history the world over, regardless of the injustice which inspired them, or the imbalanced conditions frustrating their humble, unorganized and reactive beginning.

Fifteen steps toward an evolved negotiation campaign

Step One – Holistic regard

One or more people inclined toward positive, productive reform must fully and holistically regard the situation inclusive of multiple stakeholder perspectives.

Perspectives offering the greatest benefit are as diverse as possible, providing both divergent and congruent testimony.

A thorough situational review can reveal multiple realms of influence acting cooperatively and competitive to contribute to and sustain conflict, even crises. Such realms of influence often include such systemized forces as politics; law; culture; education; a variety of commercial sectors; environmental conditions; and, social conditions. Each realm, of course, possesses its own sub-realms of influence providing infinite combinations of stagnant or dynamic interaction and reaction across the landscape of conflict.

A comprehensive view of the situation provides an expanded, richer context within which to identify key correlations. You may recognize the sky is blue. You may have been told the sky is blue and because it certainly can be, you don’t question it. You accept that fact within your own context of understanding. But without full context beyond what you believe you know about blue skies, you may not know why it is blue, or why it matters. You may consider facts from a narrowly isolated point of view, or you may associate other aspects that should also benefit from separate regard.

A full review of correlations can reveal points of weakness or vulnerability within failed or failing systems. These same and other points may be highly receptive to strengthening or change, depending upon the direction and degree of transformation sought.

Sometimes, these points of opportunity will be glaring, and other times they will be latent. An examination of apparent and less obvious contradiction can reveal the existence of mischaracterized reality, or outright misinformation or disinformation. For example, such contradictions may occur between:

● Testimony and facts;

● Observable impacts and insufficient explanation;

● Law or regulation and lack of enforcement;

● Promises and actions;

● Conditions and labels meant to summarize conditions, but which overly broaden, overly minimize, or mis-

    categorize otherwise telling detail.

Equally, such a context illuminates consistencies and points of agreement. Contradictions and consistencies provide nuclei-like clusters of densely contributing or driving circumstances.

Step Two – Research consistencies and contradictions

More roundly research consistencies as well as contradictions to more accurately determine circumstances.

Step Three – Corroborate and quantify

Pursue greater accuracy through corroborated fact-gathering, additional research and scientific quantification where warranted. Such an effort can generate a more telling and detailed portrayal of reality.

When pursuing facts and context, system-supporting barriers often exist to redirect or halt discovery. In the least, they often contribute to confusion. Whether intended or incidental, such barriers often consist of instances of:

● Fallacy;

● Misuse;

● Abuse;

● Misdirection;

● Misidentification;

● Mischaracterization;

● Non-disclosure;

● Exemption or exception;

● Obfuscation;

● Conflicts of interest; and,

● Influences considered improper or otherwise.

Step Four – Identify specific failures associated with adversary’s actions

Identify areas of organizational and operational aggression and harm within an adversary’s activities. Such an effort can point to motives and objectives which provide clarity and context for past events and lend a measure of predictability to future events. Instances of aggression and harm often also include expressions of:

● Fallacy;

● Misuse;

● Abuse;

● Misdirection;

● Misidentification;

● Mischaracterization;

● Non-disclosure;

● Exemption or exception;

● Obfuscation;

● Conflicts of interest; and,

● Influences considered improper or otherwise.

Step Five – Identify specific failures within and among protective authorities

Identify areas of administrative, legislative or other authoritative failure. This effort can point to motives and objectives which provide clarity and context for past events and lend a measure of predictability to future events. These, too, may include instances of:

● Fallacy;

● Misuse;

● Abuse;

● Misdirection;

● Misidentification;

● Mischaracterization;

● Non-disclosure;

● Exemption or exception;

● Obfuscation;

● Conflicts of interest; and,

● Influences considered improper or otherwise.

Step Six – Identify the support structure of conflict

Identify systems, relationships and mechanisms producing common benefit and minimizing common risk. Such an effort can reveal the greatest detail in identifying forces acting to sustain or advance conflict. These include allied partnerships contributing to harmful impact, whether or not intentional. Instances of illegality, unethical and/or corrupt activity often reveal support structures within conflicts.

Step Seven – Identify cultural compatibilities and incompatibilities

Identify cultural compatibilities and incompatibilities within relationships between and among those generating conflict and those experiencing impact. Such an effort can reveal:

● Cohesion and deviation potential;

● Perceptions of conditions;

● Justifications for actions or inactions; and,

● Expectations toward interaction; and,

● Expectations toward the preservation of status quo or the implementation of change.

Any or all of the above may support conditions and inflame conflict.

Step Eight – Identify alternatives and barriers thwarting their implementation

Identify constructive and attainable alternatives which could supplant dependence upon the failed system. Further identify barriers erected to thwart the implementation of alternatives.

It is not enough to oppose a failing system. Compatible alternatives serve to attract subscribers away from a failed system and toward transition.

In order to be attractive, such alternatives should be sufficiently compatible and offer greater reward and less risk than the current system does or will. These benefits should be developed and promoted on balance with urgency.

Step Nine – Holistically regard weaknesses within the solution structure

Identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities to systems, relationships and mechanisms within the proposed solution structure, inclusive of alternatives and transitional processes.

Step Ten – Identify combined failures and explore their relationship to one another

Identify points of critical system vulnerability and failure as a result of all of the above combined effects bearing upon the failed system and efforts toward transition.

Step Eleven – Address challenges forestalling solution, and inspire cooperation

Solve specific weaknesses and barriers erected to forestall implementation of solution structure.

This often involves correcting vulnerabilities in alternative designs or transitional systems; absorbing or reforming barriers to the implementation of refined alternatives; as well as recognizing and engaging cultural compatibility as an inroad toward greater and more productive mutual regard; cooperative behavior and perhaps mutually beneficial compromise.

Step Twelve – Expose failed system weakness

Broadly expose corruption, injustice and adverse impacts from current, persistent and possibly degrading conditions which are supporting the failed system.

Initial exposure within compatible cultures tends to more efficiently produce allied associations, beneficial to other facets of reform.

Step Thirteen – Inform and ally toward transformation

Form allied networks among others with a vested interest in transforming conflict into productive solution.

It is not enough to expose failure. People must be educated as to their direct and indirect role in conflict, as well as all associated risks and rewards experienced or foreseeable through subscription to existing systems. This creates more informed and vested stakeholders, which can generate more invested and active partnerships.

Networks aligned toward a common objective more efficiently and effectively enable information sharing; better combine resources; and, facilitate the construction of coalitions engaged in implementing positive change.

Step Fourteen – Promote solutions

Promote solutions through effective, persuasive communication via a public awareness campaign and conveyed to influential parties.

Step Fifteen – Engage, and resist re-absorption or corruption

Engage solutions while resisting re-absorption into the failed system during heightened times of
transitional trial and unease.

Also resist over-manipulation and corruption of the new system, while allowing for stable, transitional growth toward a more evolved system in step with and on balance with fairly represented interests.

This process can be quite comprehensive and demanding of refined analytical, organizational and other leadership skills. In recognition of those requisite needs, subsequent chapters offer specific insights into these requirements – at least, as with the whole of this book, in so far as my experience and insight allow.

Moving beyond crisis toward conversation

Whether you engage an evolved or a more standard approach to negotiations, once an opportunity manifests to negotiate directly with your adversary, you are likely to find your position demands a transition between acting in a more crisis/conflict-driven mode and assuming a mode more conducive to meeting your adversary for more direct, target-driven negotiation opportunities in a sincere effort to craft a constructive, short or longer-term, solution.

This does not mean you should or must abandon your principals or your interests. Negotiation represents a place in time in which two sides have reached stasis. It is a flashpoint and, ideally, it will be a turning point.

By the time this occurs, it may seem difficult to move beyond your adversarial stance and into one of greater neutrality. However, negotiation need not represent an end point – only a beginning. Transitioning can be as simple as a phone call or personal visit to extend an offering of good faith in putting an end to conflict and seeking mutual accord.

If your opponent possesses a motive to comply, you must now plan your advance into that territory which includes shoring up your leverage; structuring your argument; and, preparing for the host of unique and inevitable challenges and opportunities to follow.

Developing your argument and deconstructing denial

Adopting a defensible a position in negotiations is inspired by a dispute arising from two or more parties in disagreement. While that may seem obvious, we often react to near circumstances and those who appear to initiate them, failing to recognize the root of discord as well as appropriately responsible parties. The more participants that become involved, the more difficult it can be to identify true sources of discontentment as well as correlate and logically organize their unwanted effects which command our defense.

Many negotiation positions are weakened by a fundamental failure to thoroughly regard the very basis of discord, causing arguments to collapse and the potential of sound efforts to disintegrate. Worse, such miscalculation can facilitate the recurrence of conflict.

Engaging a large, organized and resource-fortified adversary on many fronts will divide your attention and quickly exhaust every resource. It can degrade an allegiance; cause you to make grievous tactical errors; consider emotion as a strategy; and, give your opponent the upper hand within your realm of influence.

You could soon find yourself in the vulnerable position of defending your actions and reacting to your adversary’s latest round of actions and accusations. Failing to consider your adversary within the appropriate context opens the real possibility of failing to materialize an argument and losing momentum before your negotiation begins. Losing that focus throughout the maturation of an evolved negotiation process can result in turning a hard-won tide of favor against you. There are several important aspects of assessing your position which you should carefully consider before undertaking negotiations:

● Identify and define your adversary according to their role in cause, fault, damages and capacity to correct;

● Weigh the strengths and vulnerabilities of your situation; and,

● Prepare to defend your position.

Identifying and defining your adversary

This may surprise you, but the individual or team opposite you at the negotiations table is not your enemy. They are merely an adversarial opponent… with, perhaps, the capacity to become a cooperative opponent. Further, when intending to appeal to and work within an adversary’s capacity, would it not be beneficial to regard them as an adversarial partner with the potential to become a cooperative partner? At the end of a mutually successful negation, that’s precisely what you and they will have become in some measure. In possessing full faith and projecting success in the negotiation process, this is certainly a productive place from which to begin.

Framing adversarial engagement in this way can help you maintain emotional equilibrium in tense negotiation situations. When the stakes are high, emotional upheaval will be among your greatest personal vulnerabilities, and one easily manipulated by your opponent, leading you to demonstrate desperation.

Emotions have a way of contributing to frustration and influencing our perceptions, particularly so in protracted situations in which you must continue to find a way of living with ongoing impacts. Emotionally, then, you may consider your opponent to be an entire industry, a corporate or other entity, or perhaps an individual responsible for the actions which led to the harm threatened or being done. Perhaps your dispute has gone on so long, has become so unclear and become so fraught with emotion, you perceive even an ideal may be blame.

In such a case, legislation and participants in an entire industry may have helped enable the conflict you may be directly experiencing. But, many associated folks may be totally oblivious to their role and certainly not acting out of intention to cause harm. Some, may be as adversely affected as you, but caught up in a complex system offering little objective fairness. Under such circumstances, it is imperative to - unemotionally and based upon factual circumstances - clarify exactly who or what your adversary is and precisely why.

It usually requires people or systems to generate causes of harm; but, intangibles, such as cultures,
beliefs and values can certainly support the conditions which give harm rise, prevent resolution and compound damage.

Fully recognizing your adversary should involve revisiting the situation from its beginning in order to draw out who is responsible for exactly what, and precisely how so. You may find a number of different participants have contributed to the dispute at different times and to differing degrees. Examining the situation is such a light has the capacity to aid in the development of strategies and tactics; focus your actions more efficiently toward achievable goals; and even engage adversarial partners toward that end.

For example, if faced with a large commercial adversary, you may be able to factually distill the root of contention to corporate leadership responsible for crafting harmful policy favored and sustained by a culture of rewarded disregard. Each of these components can be sensitive to influence and can therefore fold within a cohesive, measured strategy applied toward resolve through channels where resolve is most likely to be found.

A stable, consistent approach to engaging your adversary is required in successful negotiations. When inclined to disregard the importance of this principal and simply react to any near object of your frustration, consider the following to help quantify your perception of your opponent:

● Your opponent will usually be the true source of your damage. In assessing the harm you believe you have experienced, determine what actions or inactions have caused the harm. Who or what caused or contributed to it?

● Your opponent represents ultimate accountability for your harm. After climbing the chain of command, on whose desk does to buck really stop? Is the person responsible for your harm the person out in the field simply following orders and doing a job; or, is it the presiding executive or board whose policies have provided the environment within which the cause of harm has been allowed to flourish?

● Your opponent is usually the same source capable of providing redress or correcting underlying conditions. Identify who possesses the ultimate authority and resources to correct the situation through re-evaluation of policy, restructuring, restitution or other offer of restoration.

● What resources should be brought to bear?

Recognizing the contributing characteristics of your opponent will aid your ability to negotiate in a number of important ways. It will keep you appropriately motivated through the desire to reach agreement with a vaguely defined distant source, while allowing you the much needed objectivity of working closely with someone whom you are able to regard as merely an opponent – that is, one with whom you are more inclined to engage fairly.

This helps reduce emotional tensions which can accompany unbalanced negotiations and will allow you to more clearly see the scope, the objective and the obstacles which act to bar progress during the negotiations process. Weighing the strengths and vulnerabilities of your situation

You must take stock of resources on both sides of the conflict, realizing yours will likely be fragile and depleted. How are the following holding up: finances, time, emotion, quality of life? How might these resources fare under the stress of alternatives, such as trial. Accepting the limits of your resources may introduce more distress to your negotiation and inspire the need to reach an agreement; but realize, your opponent likely knows this and is also likely to leverage it against you.

Don’t be a stranger to your own limitations. Failing to properly account for your needs can be a tremendous vulnerability for the individual negotiating with a large adversary, so you must try to determine, before beginning negotiations, exactly how far you can and will go. Your secret advantage, and paradoxically ultimate liability, is your willingness to engage your opponent on principal alone.

As adversaries, corporations, in particular, possess pitifully imperceptible moral incentive. If you fight the fight on principal with such an opponent, you will have to educate your adversary as to how they have impacted you; your motive to pursue other avenues of restitution; why resolution is important to you; how your persistence might affect your adversary; and, what they can do to remedy the situation.

Prepare to defend against the counter-credo

The counter-credo dictates that the accused or confronted:

● Admit nothing.

● Deny everything.

● Demand proof.

● Make counter-accusations.

● Accuse someone else.

Though the counter-credo can complicate and de-base genuine good-faith negotiations, I acknowledge it as a reactionary function. Anyone in an adversarial or defensive mode can possess the counter-credo tendency. Certainly, it can buy time until one can think of a strategy; but, it can also cloud an issue making the evoker vulnerable to unexpected attack. It puts one’s opponent on the defensive, and if they engage similarly, further clouds real issues at hand. The counter-credo opens the situation to untold complexity, less than honorable participation and allows mistrust and resentment to flourish – fertile ground for heightened conflict, not resolution.

To more successfully leverage your position, you may have to chip away at this mindset – which your opponent may tenaciously practice – while closely guarding your strategy. Accept this disadvantage with grace and give it your best shot. If your adversary is relentless in this tactic, they are demonstrating a greater desire to pursue other avenues of remedy.

If litigation is an option, it may be helpful to remind them only one party will prevail in court. Your adversary’s willingness to risk litigation is going to relate directly to their vested resources and consequences of a potential loss. Does the appointed fool sitting opposite you at the negotiation table and liberally implementing the counter-credo represent the interests of your larger adversary? Probably neither in a broad sense nor the long run. You may need to point this out to their supervisor and request a different negotiator. If you run into resistance from the supervisor, note who you speak with and demonstrate a willingness to communicate the lapse in forward momentum with those who have delegated that responsibility.

Attempting to move a large, entrenched and influential adversary beyond the counter-credo can feel like banging your head against a wall. It is easy for your opponent to fold their proverbial arms across their chest and say “Make me.” It’s another matter for you to alter that stance.

Such an adversary may take an early and public position of ‘deny everything and blame someone else’. This drives the conflict into an arena of ‘he said, she said’, which serves to confuse facts, delay investigation and establish public positions likely to be furthered through disinformation and media campaigns.

Anticipating this stance in advance should trigger the pursuit of intelligence in support of argument; that is, uncovering facts through insightful, correlative thinking and conducting diligent research. Demonstrating at least some degree of cause and effect often causes an adversary to consider the ‘certainty’ of their assumptions within the context of publicized findings. Once this type of leverage is revealed, adversaries often begin examining the broader situation and defending themselves in earnest.

By devoting the necessary time and attention to pre-negotiation preparation and working to validate your participation in the process, you help ensure that every other effort you organize behind your negotiation objective moves forward with greater surety and effectiveness.

Indeed, the well-examined incentive to engage in negotiations will largely define the context of discussions; the levelness of the playing field; and, the mood of interaction.

Considering the following aspects will help you further strengthen your defense by balancing certain assumptions you may bring to negotiations against a real world, at-the-table round of talks.

Know who bears the burden of proof In examining your defense, realize in advance who will bear the burden of proof. Is it exclusive to one party or the other? Perhaps the burden is shared. In other words, once one party’s burden of proof is met, the burden may shift to the other party. This complexity of burden may continue through layers of issues in a sustainable dynamic. Recognize where your obligations rest and prepare for them.

Honing the art of persuasion The act of defending is directly relative to the strength of whatever opposes you. In negotiations, defending is tantamount to the art of persuasion, and you can only persuade as much as your opponent is willing to yield. The greatest success in negotiation will come from an atmosphere of concession, never from coercion.

A good negotiator will come to the table with their claim, their facts and their arguments then attempt to respectfully, logically and rationally influence the opinions of their opponent through the presentation of correlative evidence, new information or inference. This is also how good attorneys address a judge and jury.

In order to facilitate your greatest advance, you’ll have to discover what is pressing the brakes of your opponent, and what might drive them to move forward – pushing you back or meeting you in the middle. What makes your opponent sullen and what motivates them to move forward may not be the same motive. Building a strong argument to support your claim, while establishing a tone of courteous respect and genuine empathy, will aid in this delicate process.

In arguing your claim, you’ll have to be tenacious, attentive to your opponent’s discomfort, quick and creative with solutions – all while speaking their language. In practicing persuasion, remember the role of emotion. Reveal only what you want revealed. Body language can give away emotions and is also vulnerable to misinterpretation by your opponent. Your verbal language should reflect a cooperative tone and words which evoke and clearly communicate your desire to seek consensual agreement.

Your personal style will come into play here. If you are abrupt, crass, suspicious, sarcastic, condescending or possess any similar predominant trait, achieving an authentically persuasive demeanor will be difficult. Assuming a cooperative demeanor as a veneer will likely be counter-productive. If you find yourself in this position, you may do well appointing a spokesperson or negotiator to speak for you.

Enhancing the potential of good faith efforts through assurance, context and approach How you correlate or link information gathered from your intelligence efforts in support of your claim relates directly to how many levers you posses and how strong they are. These aspects are vital to a strong defense and can help the negotiator engage more assuredly with greater commitment.

Optimize your position and your defense with evidence, information, insight, and timing. In doing so, you can afford to optimistically indulge in the patience and spirit of cooperation a successful negotiation effort often demands.

Facts are black and white, and will provide the strongest ground on which to stand. Circumstances, however, are certainly relevant and provide important context. As such, they are likely to become the subject of scrutiny – perhaps eventual judicial scrutiny, and are even more likely to become the subject of artful framing. In anticipating how circumstances may be framed to appear beneficial, harmful or benign, try to recognize your reality as others see it, not simply how it seems to you. No matter how little, the tiniest advantage can be leveraged. The greatest disadvantage can be sculpted and rotated – on both sides.

Don’t worry if your opponent is familiar with your style and strategies. You should, in fact, expect a formidable opponent to be exactly that. And you should anticipate that every opponent will be formidable. Whereas some negotiators consider an opponent’s insight into their style and strategy a major vulnerability in position, I don’t. Attempting to cloak the obvious (or what will soon become obvious) only detracts from the consequential points of negotiation you should be concerned with. Approaching negotiations with an attitude of bravado or one which suggests you are protecting an immaterial facade only undermines good faith efforts. The business of negotiation assumes there exists middle-ground, and encourages the cooperative effort of finding it.

The role of argument

A defensible position lends itself to and is supported by a strong, well-reasoned argument admitting failures – if involved – forthrightly, and leads to a logical proposal of priority objectives inclusive of means and methods of achievement.

There are others, of course, who would argue to the contrary and claim, at least privately, that it is infinitely better to lie and cope with discovery only if caught. Untruths are inherently weak and perilous… not the best framework for a powerful counter force. But, naturally, everyone must determine
their own best course of action.

Positions, arguments and even offers tend to stand on a shared platform of reason. Argument, however, will form the basis of defense for all, so it should be as sturdy and impervious to attack as possible. Further it will enable your offense in disassembling or debasing your opponent’s position, argument and unreasonable proposals, suggesting even greater need for its strength, agility and resilience.

Of course, even well-reasoned arguments can be denied and debased with strong opposition. Opposing argument should not be feared, but you should prepare to effectively defend against it.

A strong argument can actually benefit greatly when it stands against a failed attack to discredit it. Even better, a successful argument’s integrity will expand favorable perception, and the argument itself will begin to influence apart from the person proposing it.

Make every effort to design an argument which will stand up not only to your adversary’s counter claims, but also a hearing panel, or judge or jury’s inquiry, should the dispute advance to that stage of resolution.

A negotiator should engage in thorough review of situational variables throughout the negotiation process, which are likely to change over time and lend dynamism to the development of a relevant argument.

Ahead of embarking on the deeper study of integrated variables in the next chapter, the following Argument Development worksheet can assist in:

● Better defining your position;

● Directing your argument toward the appropriate recipient;

● Establishing the basis of your argument, which often reflects a first proposal;

● Better identifying its strengths, vulnerabilities and nuance;

● Anticipating specific challenges likely to be posed by your adversary; and,

● Bolstering your abilities to refute counter-argument.

Approach the worksheet mindful of argument’s role in lending purpose to a position and substantiating a proposal. After you’ve completed the worksheet, study your responses. In all likelihood you will identify areas in need of strengthening. As needed, and certainly after completing this guide, revisit this worksheet, revising your position, argument and supporting evidence until you feel your argument is as well-developed and relevant to opposing argument as possible.



 

Copyright, Disclaimer and Reprint Permission

This Introduction component of the publication: You And What Army? How to Neutralize Conflict and Negotiate Justice For the Totally Outgunned, Inwardly Timid, Burnt Out or Socially Defunct is Copyright 2011 by Lisa Bracken and published by New Flight Books.

This publication may not be reproduced and/or distributed by any means or in any form without the copyright owner's permission. All rights are reserved. Reprint permission is available for entire chapter reprints or component parts. Please send copyright and permission inquires as well as notification of potentially unauthorized postings to: L. Bracken c/o New Flight Books - PO Box 30 Silt, CO 81652 or 'Message' Lisa Bracken via Facebook facebook.com/lisa.bracken.author. Thank you in advance for your help in supporting the efforts of writers and publishers to control their work, benefit fairly from it and, in kind, encourage the creation of new work benefiting others.

Lisa Bracken is a paralegal and therefore, a non-attorney. The content of this publication is NOT legal advice. Legal advice should be specific to the circumstances of a situation as considered within the appropriate legal jurisdiction by a qualified expert on the matters in question; therefore, readers are encouraged to seek the advice of qualified counsel under applicable circumstances. The contents, herein, are based upon the author's experience and are provided for general informational purposes only. The author and publisher cannot and therefore will NOT guarantee anyone's success or failure from their interpretation and/or application of the contents. Others' interpretation and application of the contents should comply with all relevant and applicable law. 

 

  

The Negotiation Process: Preparation and Practice

Argument Development worksheet


Date of completion: _______________


1. Who or what do you believe your adversary to be?

2. Are you able to identify one or more authorities accountable to your grievance/injury and therefore substantive to your argument? If so, who or what is that authority? Is there a primary authority?

3. Is this authority also your adversary? If so, why? If not, why?

4. Are you able to identify a failed process as the basis of your argument? If so, and if known, who and/ or what caused the process to fail?

5. How many participants are involved in the conflict?

6. What roles do the participants play? Are some contributing to conflict? Are others tying to resolve it? Do some benefit from the conflict? Are others more harmed than some? Note participants’ roles.

7. Of those involved, which are more aligned with your argument and which are more aligned with that of your adversary?

8. What is your primary grievance?

9. What is your adversary’s primary grievance?

10. Does your argument consider multiple perspectives – including counter perspectives and concurring perspectives?

11. Does your adversary’s argument consider multiple perspectives – including counter perspectives and concurring perspectives?

12. What are you proposing as a measure of mitigation or restitution? “What” may include accountability, acknowledgement, less public exposure, less resistance, a means to mitigate on-going damage, restitution, a variety of conditions, etc.

13. How, precisely will your proposal correct, or, aid in correcting your grievance?

14. What variables and conditions exist to justify or help justify your position, argument and/or proposal?

15. In what way might your adversary view your proposal as unreasonable or unjustified?

16. If known, what is your adversary proposing as a measure of mitigation or restitution?

17. If known, how, precisely will your adversary’s proposal correct, or, aid in correcting your grievance?

18. What variables and conditions exist to demonstrate that an adversary’s proposal is a dis-service to even their own apparent objectives?

19. What variables and conditions exist to demonstrate that an adversary’s proposal is unreasonable or
unjustified?

20. What variables and conditions exist to demonstrate that an adversary’s proposal is justified?

21. How have opposing needs driven one or more parties toward negotiation as a means of mitigation or redress? This may include recent events acting as triggers as well as a sense of urgency; severity of damages; future risks, etc.

22. What is the premise of your argument? In other words, what assumptions or projections depend upon and therefore form its basis and rationale? For example, are you directly or indirectly challenging your adversary’s premise through your own premise? Are you revealing new circumstances or possibilities which draw your adversary’s assumptions into question? Are you advancing an alternate theory? Because a premise forms the reason for subsequent action, it can either introduce vulnerability or provide strong defense for an argument. Does an underlying agenda accompany your premise? If so, how does it or could it affect the validity of your argument, especially if it appears contradictory to higher goals?

23. Has your argument been considered within the appropriate context of circumstances, inclusive of mitigating circumstances?

24. Have you, in any way, acted counter to supporting your own premise; that is, acted in a contradictory manner or relied upon contradictory logic? If so, how and why?

25. What appears to be the premise of your adversary’s argument? Does an underlying agenda accompany their premise? If so, how does it or could it affect the validity of their argument, especially if it appears contradictory to higher goals?

26. Has your adversary’s argument been considered within the appropriate context of circumstances, inclusive of mitigating circumstances?

27. Has your adversary, in any way, acted counter to supporting their own premise; that is, acted in a contradictory manner or relied upon contradictory logic? If so, how and why?

28. Is one or more party in more of an advantageous position than others? If so, how so?

29. What factors may be working to your advantage which support your premise?

30. What factors may be working in your opponent’s favor which could undermine your current position and destabilize the premise of your argument?

31. Is your argument based on facts which you believe to be accurate? If so, note the most influential facts here in order of priority and/or chronologically.

32. Many arguments are built upon both fact and speculation. If components of your argument are speculative, what are the components and upon what assumptions do they stand? How well supported, by existing fact assumed to be accurate, are the assumptions?

33. Is evidence obtainable which would substantiate speculation and contribute to fact? If so, list it and note how to obtain it. Supporting statistical evidence should be factual, inclusive of material input, accurate, precise and capable of withstanding objective scrutiny. Therefore, note particular risks to statistical evidence.

34. Does your argument demonstrate a strong correlation between cause and effect? If so, note how.

35. Is the proposed cause and effect logical and support practical sense? If so, in what ways?

36. Is the proposed cause and effect rational and based upon unemotional, objective reasoning? If so, how specifically is your argument made less vulnerable to challenge by such reasoning?

37. Is your argument presented in proportion to circumstances including risks, and benefits – to both you and your adversary?

38. Is your argument free of bias?

39. Are there supporting conditions which have contributed to the cause or effect? If so, list them. Often these conditions are precursory; complicate things; or, make matters worse.

40. Can you demonstrate a chronological or otherwise sequential series of circumstances which have resulted in conditions giving rise to the dispute and desire to negotiate? If so, note them generally and sequentially.

41. Do you have proof of accusations or measurable injury? If so, note the evidence.

42. Do others who are credible and/or influential support your position with either opinion of expert analysis? If so, note them; the value of their support; and, their reason for support. Are these experts appropriately qualified? Can they withstand well-reasoned opposing argument?

43. How effectively can you distill your argument, driving the essence of your point? Frame your argument within a summary of 500 words on a separate sheet of paper focusing on the most important points and supporting evidence.

44. Revise your 500 word summary to a 300 word statement. This exercise will likely prove invaluable, not only in helping you realize the essence of your argument, but also for purposes of media and educational campaigning.

45. Can you provide illustrative and quantitative context for your point with comparable situations literal or figurative? If so, what would they be? An example might be a statistical reference to an equivalent quantity or threshold as well as the known consequences of exceeding it. Using such an example would logically suggest similar or even correlative conclusions in support of your argument. Such examples serve different purposes. Those similar in circumstances tend to be more supportive of literal argument. Those similar merely in scope or illustrating degrees of severity tend to better support a figurative comparison but can be no less influential in helping allies and adversaries visualize issues. Complete this statement: This situation is similar in basis to…

46. Would visual aids assist in strengthening and/or conveying your point? If so, how could charts, graphs, models, photographs, video, a slide presentation, or similar aid assist?

47. How has your adversary acted to cause you to defend your position? Note specific instances relative to facts, damages and access to authority noted elsewhere herein.

48. What can your adversary offer which could move you to modify your position?

49. Your adversary is likely to counter many aspects of your proposal in a negotiation: How might your adversary counter your position, that is, your requests and reasons for them?

50. How might your adversary counter your argument, its premise, its logic or rationale?

51. How might your adversary counter your evidence and sources of fact? Other experts? Questionable or unverifiable sources of information? Skewed statistical data?

52. How might they counter your objectivity, capacity, credentials or even character?

53. Based upon your adversary’s strongest defense, counter arguments and tactics to refute… how well do they stand up to their own measures of questioning? In other words, if your adversary says: “You have no proof…” how well could they defend against the same assertion? Examine your adversary’s argument against counter-claims and assertions, noting their strengths and vulnerabilities here.

Distilled Knowledge / Guided Implementation

54. List the main issues this worksheet revealed about your argument, including strengths, weaknesses and dependencies:

55. Create a short summary explaining how this information relates to a big-picture view of the situation inclusive of relevant important details.

56. How is the development of your argument best implemented?

57. What next steps does the development of your argument suggest and support?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Engaging in the Negotiation Process

From the moment of deciding negotiation is the course to pursue, to shaking hands and calling it a day, what might a negotiation process look like from a field perspective?

This segment takes you down that figurative road, introducing you to both potentials and pitfalls worthy of close consideration.

The value of a shake-down cruise in advance of talks


When preparing for a vital logistics operation, you’ll want to test your equipment, planning, resourcefulness and potential outcome in advance. When two opponents meet to negotiate, the purpose is initially and largely one of defining the scope of conflict. Each side wants to know the position and fortification of the other. Each side wants to overtly dispense with non-controversial issues. Eventually, the goal becomes that of constructing a mutually acceptable compromise, or otherwise reaching inspired resolution.

To achieve this you must recognize the many facets of your argument and defense. In order to identify potential weaknesses in your armor, conduct a mock negotiation, appointing someone intimately familiar with the situation to aggressively represent your adversary and their interests. Hammer through the negotiation process, then swap roles and hammer through it again. Assuming the role of your adversary – getting into the head of your opponent and uttering, yourself, the words you are sure to hear hurled at you during negotiations – will go far in preparing you for the emotional volatility to follow. Note every chink in your armor throughout this process and weld it shut.

Navigating around and beyond the first move in negotiation

In tense, high-stakes negotiation situations, making the first move can take on inflated significance and provide an opportunity for over-analysis and misread signals by opposing participants. This can result in costly delay when the focus should be upon timely resolution.

Knowledge of the attributes which characterize the “first move” as well as subsequent reactions in your opponent can help dispel any associated stigma and focus your efforts on resolution rather than appearances. Following are suggestions in planning your offer as well as strategies for avoiding firstmove-phobia while making the most of fist-move opportunity.

Offers may accompany the first move in negotiation though they need not. An offer can be any means of presenting solution to a dispute. As such, they often find form in the way of monetary compensation or incentive; conditions; or, some combination thereof. When an offer does accompany the first move in a negotiation, realistic expectations of its presentation and scope can prepare you for the difficult work of dissection and re-proposal.

A common basis for delaying a first offer is the hope that one’s adversary will act first and be more than generous with their offer. Of course, the adversary is hoping likewise – in that their opposition will accept something far less than should be reasonably expected.

In receiving your adversary’s offer, or, in gauging their reaction to yours, realize a large, organized adversary – particularly a commercial one - may present a predetermined amount based upon likely outcomes of both litigation and settlement. You should realize, however, this amount may be based on the circumstances as they now stand, or as your opponent knows them. You or your adversary’s possession or pursuit of undisclosed information could cause a critical shift in leverage and the accounting of potential concessions.

In some circumstances you may gain an appreciable advantage if your opponent makes the first move by presenting an offer. That is, assuming the first move supports an offer. As a matter of form and rule of thumb, he or she who suggests negotiations should be prepared to make the first offer. In some cases, however, the first move may simply be an offer to talk – that is, participate in more of an evaluative, and less of a conclusive, round of conversation. For the purposes of this segment let’s assume that the first “move” does indeed represent an associated offer, whether or not immediately evident.

If the value of your disruption is so ambiguous that you must rely upon an opponent’s first offer to provide a context of exchange, you may benefit from allowing your opponent to delineate that value. But, it will probably be conservative. A safe assumption is that your adversary will impel you to justify every request for conditions or a monetary equivalent and work aggressively to extend the boundaries they establish through their initial offer. Further, your opponent will probably believe your initial offer is subjectively likewise restrained and will be artificially inflated.

An offer, regardless of form, is a proposal of solution. Therefore, it often becomes the focus and subject of debate and disassembling, particularly when less fair in its structure.

Typically, conditions or amounts presented will be based upon either a “wish” list or a “need” list – as well as any combination of the two. Knowing as much as possible about your opponent’s vulnerabilities, strengths and capabilities will help you determine the context of the request, as well as their reluctance to properly redress any losses through the extension of a fair offer, should this be the case.

In determining a counter-offer, should you elect to present one, you may disregard the rationale of your adversary, in part or in total, choosing instead to counter with an offer you feel is grounded in stark reality. While this may seem a logical approach, reciprocating, by keeping your requests within the context and scope which your adversary has introduced, may assist in managing your adversary’s expectations of your proposal.

It’s my preference to simply quantify an offer through careful analysis of how actual and/or apparent loss departs from status quo; assign a monetary or conditions-based equivalent value of exchange to that departure; and, present the offer. This approach immediately frames the request within the context of need; clarifies the issues at hand; and, dispenses with unrealistic expectations which can obscure the search for solution as well as structures of compromise.

Despite the simplified approach outlined above, there is often great and justifiable consternation in determining the final form of an offer. A margin of adjustment is usually highly desired by both parties.

Imposing fixed expectations upon an offer artificially constrains access to creative means of agreement. A flexible margin provides the offer and counter-offer areas for comfortable contraction and expansion, ultimately allowing a tailored fit between both parties.

Unfortunately, an effort to allow a margin of flexibility is often misinterpreted as an effort to begin with expanded expectation and therefore an effort to mislead. This tendency given rise to the common assumptions governing what are perceived as “high-ball” and “low-ball” offers.

One such assumption is that by over-inflating or high-balling an offer, you are asking for more than you expect to receive; but, since you can yield more from within this artificial zone, your true aim is to secure at least what you need and maybe more.

In contrast, the low-ball withholds reasonable accommodations in order to ideally force the recipient into greater concessions.

In order to help curtail the tendency toward high-ball and low-ball offers, as well as the assumptions which accompany them, when presenting your offer, be sure to present reasonable justification for its parameters, perhaps even highlighting specific areas where you can accommodate shift or variance.

Since you can safely assume you’ll be strongly advocating for every inch gained, the more familiar you are with your concessions, the more you will be able to trim the margin within a reasonable range. If you play by these rules, you should expect the same from your opponent.

An offer can come at any time during the negotiation process. In order to give your offer the proper recognition is deserves, prepare, in advance, a foundation for its presentation. This must include a rational argument defending your requests. It is also quite likely to benefit from framing, a technique which involves organizing, shaping and presenting the context of information. A detailed account of framing technique can be found in this book’s chapter: Turn Objections into Concessions and Adversaries into Advocates in Negotiations. In order to help prevent your opponent from keeling over from a heart attack or fit of mirth when you present your offer, you should make sure it is fair, just and grounded in reality. The reality should reflect your objective and research, which you can produce to justify the basis for it.

The sooner even a preliminary offer is on the table, the sooner everyone can get down to the business of restructuring proposals and dissecting compromise – bit by bit. Constructing an appropriate foundation can provide everyone the preliminary parameters within which a solution can be more quickly crafted.

Negations can suffer a time crises due to hesitation often arising from perceptions revolving around who makes the first move. I’m of the belief that worrying over who makes the first offer and harboring any assumptions which surround it allows too much emphasis to be placed upon posturing.

Though it’s wise to assume that a suggestion to negotiate may occur in order to enhance a leveraged advantage, it could be false to assume that negotiation has been suggested out of desperation. Such an invitation may simply reflect respect, an appreciation of resource conservation, and simple good sense.

In order to navigate around the first move, you have to engage in thinking patterns beyond the linear. Whereas negotiations can be thought of as a step by step process, and the process may move forward in a linear fashion, the moves and strikes that occur in order to push negotiation forward take place all over the board, dimensionally.

Contemplate your strategy

Evolved negotiations involve long range strategic planning and execution, but such strategic tactics and advantages can distill into exercised leverage during talks. Therefore, it is vital to engage in discussion fully informed of your position and in possession of a strong and strategic plan of implementation.

Based on the course discussions take and what they may reveal, you should be capable of acting both offensively and defensively in order to protect your interests. That might mean anticipating an adversary’s suggestion to minimize an offer, and quickly countering their leverage, driving discussion back to the point of beginning. It might mean staging a series of small advances orchestrated to secure a particular concession from your adversary. It could mean, recognizing when you are being led and lured through an adversary’s small sacrifices.

Engaging in mock scenarios with a partner who can assume the role of your adversary can provide a sense of how negotiations might play out, and could even reveal surprising strategies along the way. Strategy games can be a simple, inexpensive, efficient, and effective technique in sharpening your strategy skills. The greater the variety and level of complexity, the greater the degree of flexible thinking you can achieve.

Throughout negotiations, be wary of all motives which may be attached to anything your adversary requests or concedes – somewhere, there is a benefit to be found. Your intelligence collection efforts should illuminate any such connections.

The more you know about your adversary’s strengths, weaknesses, motives, and past patterns of behavior in similar circumstances, the more you’ll be able to anticipate their moves and counter moves, and more fully analyze what is on the table and what might be concealed.

Timing is critical for each maneuver in negotiation, particularly as it relates to using leverage. As with any game of strategy, you will have to develop a feel for when the time is right to make a move.

In negotiation or any other goal worth pursuing, you should be prepared for risk. If the risk is calculated – make sure you know how many factors you’ve considered and whether previous wins or concessions have changed the landscape of your calculations. If a risk is uncalculated but seems worthy of exploration, determine in advance how far you’re willing to wade into the unknown.

Stay light on your feet.

It’s a good bet your opponent will immediately try to position you into a defensive and reactionary mode. Don’t take the bait. You’ll have a better chance of recognizing this tactic if you are well-prepared for your adversary’s attack and defense. A negotiator positioned into a reactionary mode is like a prize fighter on the ropes. Methods used to get you there may not always be obvious. Since three of your greatest vulnerabilities are loss of emotional control; a poorly designed defense; and, insufficient material evidence to substantiate your claim, your adversary will probably attack these weaknesses first.

The flotsam and jetsam of conflict have a way of coalescing into a swirling mass of objectionable debris and target objectives during the intensity of negotiations. Eliminating the influence of ego, suppressing tell-tale emotion, and remaining calm and objective can lend both shield and stability in the face of such an onslaught.

Ideally, only you can grant someone the authority to anger you. Don’t let your adversary disturb your emotional stability, unless you allow them to do so purposefully so as to expose a trigger which you want them to see, but don’t want to appear to volunteer. A negotiation is a risky platform for revealing emotion – unless it is a carefully considered allowance in order to legitimately convey your situation. In that case, exposing a degree of vulnerability may be beneficial – but be careful not to get carried away. You could end up prematurely revealing more than you intend with what seems like an attentive and sensitive audience.

Manage your higher authority and remember the power of “I don’t know.”

It’s unrealistic to expect that you will be prepared for every contingency on your first step out into negotiations. Depending upon the complexity of your situation, you may wish to structure two or three meetings as you work from concept to details and framework. “I don’t know” defers your authority at least temporarily, and can be used by and against you as a stall tactic. You need to manage this from your end. Allowing mutual flexibility is likely to produce constructive results; however, you must be aware of how your adversary’s delays may be benefiting them and harming you. Is their delay causing some of your leverage to weaken? Might they suspect this? A good bet is, probably. Pressure, in the form of working your key leverage while it is still strong, may be warranted.

Of benefit, deferring to a higher authority can build empathy, reduce competitive impulses and inspire greater neutrality (and its implied flexibility in solution-seeking) among participants; however, bad form resides on either side of this thin line. Opponents associated with large, organized structures, particularly representatives in the lower to mid-level management range, are quite likely to defer to a higher authority during negotiations; and, as an individual, you may be comforted by great reliance on yours. While it is perfectly reasonable to desire time to review a proposal, both parties should be prepared to make basic decisions reasonably attendant to discussions.

If pressure intensifies surrounding a pivotal issue and you find you cannot make a confident decision, your higher authority option may be the appropriate solution. Your higher authority could be anyone, such as a family member or an attorney. A failure to act immediately could cost you the offered option, but often, high-pressure tactics are more closely associated with bad-faith motives. Is there a reason your adversary doesn’t want you to consult with your attorney? Is there something inherently unfair about their proposal? When agreements are argued or later defended in court, judges and juries generally frown upon those which tend to unduly favor one side over another.

Reserving the right to allow your higher authority to review the proposal may actually benefit your adversary more than they might suspect. It can provide a greater likelihood the basic framework will be salvageable while ensuring both side’s essential needs are met. If your adversary is at all sincere, this gives them hope you aren’t outright rejecting their proposal or sidestepping it. You could assure them you are simply investing the proper attention in preserving the possibilities of an agreement – based on their proposal.

Remember the power of "Yes" and “No”

"Yes" is implied within an offer to negotiate. "No", however, can feel much more daunting in the face of driving need, especially when your value in an unbalanced situation feels tenuous. Feel free to say “no”. Savor it. Appreciate it. For such a little word, it can pack a lot of power.

The word, itself, isn’t to blame for the uncomfortable feelings it tends to evoke; but, the assumption that it must be defended often discourages its use. So prepare to defend it.

The beauty of “no” is that it allows both parties room to maneuver forward or back on a tough point. Practice saying “no” to yourself, and have someone say it to you. Get used to hearing how it sounds and realize how it empowers you to get down to the real work of negotiations. “No” does not usually represent a blanket rejection. It is more often an objection to part of a proposal. Make that clear during discussions. For every offer on the table, disassemble it and find points of agreement. Begin designing a workable solution from there.

Both "Yes" and "No" represent sharp tools with the capacity to pare and unrecognizable process comprised of conditions, requests, objections and concessions into a sleek and functional form of resolution.

Engage leverage

There is a fine line between revealing your plan of attack and reserving your strategy or game plan. Your overall means-to-an-end will reveal itself when you frame the issues within context for you opponent. But, you should guard your timing and preservation of personal process by strategically implementing key leverage when certain language or parameters indicate it’s time.

Regardless of whether your opponent sets the pace or you do, you can lead your opponent, through the use of topic and language, into your structured process. By presenting your proposal in close association with reasoning and context in a sequential and symbiotic order, you can draw your opponent through your priorities and concessions in a logical manner which leverages your approach, demeanor and requests. They will probably do the same, or should.

Levers can break, and can be used in reverse. Be aware of how your levers are situated and under what circumstances they may become vulnerable. A series of levers used to build a coalition can be applied against a coalition.

Call for a break

Take a time out when necessary, but not at a time when it may appear obvious you need to regroup, such as when your team is unorganized or at odds. Call for a break during a moment of neutrality or cordial exchange and hammer out differences with your colleagues anywhere but in the presence of your adversaries. Pre-scheduled breaks may be appropriate, but can be a hindrance when you and your opponent are making good strides.

Evoking the power of silence

Silence can be golden – and may accompany a bluff as readily as it does a heart-felt and deeply defended conviction. Silence is more effective if you are negotiating alone or as a member of a team when your partner can distinguish that the ball has been thrown in your adversary’s court.

If you are working with a partner who cannot bear the weight of a silent moment - or consecutively, two or three, rethink implementing it, since in doing so, there’s a chance your partner will fill the void with essential information; acting without sufficient forbearance; dismissing or skipping over an important foreshadowing issue; or, giving away your position simply to alleviate what they perceive as an awkward moment.

Pauses shouldn’t be feared. Just as when working with the media, incorporate a substantial pause into each of your responses. That way, when you actually need it – you won’t be suggesting doubt. Conducting a conversation in this manner helps you appear calm, confident, measured and prepared for anything your opponent may throw at you – even when you’re not.

Silence is a neutral tool. It should be coveted, never squandered or misused. It provides several opportunities to level things out. It can calm nerves; build tension; introduce suspicion that an adversary has tread into dangerous territory; or, give someone a chance to re-group or develop an appropriate response.

How silence is broken is as important is how it is initiated. Your sense of timing should reflect exactly what you want to convey to your opponent and to what degree of severity. Your opponent may attempt to lessen the power of silence with a look, a sigh, or subtle-but meaningful body language. You can hold your inflection by remaining neutral in your response to their animation. When working with skilled communicators, what is actually said during this kind of display can speak volumes on both sides, so interpret well and don’t overplay.

Moving beyond stasis and structuring compromise

One of the most singularly gratifying aspects of negotiations is guiding stalwart opposition into compromise without sacrificing fundamental factors of either participant’s resistance.

This segment examines the dynamics of compromise, taking an abstract ideal and presenting it within a concrete form. This model will aid in the visualization of a forward-moving collaborative structure by examining the “give and take” exchange inspired by the use of various leverage mechanisms which form its foundation.

After positioning, secondary fact-finding, and perhaps repositioning, the next task in conducting a negotiation is to dispense with all non-controversial issues, while mutually identifying those issues which have created stasis in momentum.

If, after these measures have been taken, it is apparent that each side remains committed to seeking resolution, your next task is to deconstruct this broad focal point comprised of contentious issues by dissecting the attendant objections of each.

This is accomplished by looking closely at each participant’s means of achieving equity compared with their desire to maintain equilibrium.

In order to more easily assess this sometimes fluid situation, ask two qualifying questions to establish a baseline of need from which you can begin addressing solutions through real conversation.

1) What, and under what circumstances, can you give?

2) What appears under any circumstances to be non-negotiable?

Once objections and the reasons for them are fairly determinable, both parties can begin to move agreement forward through three primary pathways:

● Conceding – which is an act of compromise

● Compelling – which is a competitive act

● Cooperating – which is a collaborative act

By yielding a point of contention; convincing your opponent to yield; or, constructing a cooperative solution, you are providing powerful methods of achieving compromise through the introduction of resolution options. All three pathways to agreement are initiated by offering something that the other participant desires, either through want or need.

Realize, the answers to the qualifying questions above may alter or become more evident once the wheels of compromise begin turning and both parties begin to experience actual progress. This builds contentment and confidence which leads to an enriched environment of cooperation.

Unbalanced, protracted and complicated conflicts often benefit from an evolved approach to negotiations in an effort to steer influential conditions toward positive transformation. This is especially true for conflicts which oppress unalienable human rights, such as a freedom and access to lifesustaining environmental conditions. Strategically guided transformative conditions can inspire and support more target-specific negotiation opportunities while advancing toward a more distant objective.

Historically, such transformation has reflected a consistent pattern of involvement which has resulted in the beneficial evolution of humanity, itself. That pattern can be reflected in fifteen steps:

Step One – Holistic regard

Step Two – Research consistencies and contradictions

Step Three – Corroborate and quantify

Step Four – Identify specific failures associated with adversary’s actions

Step Five – Identify specific failures within and among protective authorities

Step Six – Identify the support structure of conflict

Step Seven – Identify cultural compatibilities and incompatibilities

Step Eight – Identify alternatives and barriers thwarting their implementation

Step Nine – Holistically regard weaknesses within the solution structure

Step Ten – Identify combined failures and explore their relationships

Step Eleven – Address challenges forestalling solution, and inspire cooperation

Step Twelve – Expose failed system weakness

Step Thirteen – Inform and ally toward transformation

Step Fourteen – Promote solutions

Step Fifteen – Engage, and resist re-absorption or corruption

Your adversary is likely to diligently work toward disassembling a formidable coalition, striving to finally weaken leadership and cornerstones either by diminishing resources or complying with their individual needs apart from unified coalition demands.

Those steps involve:

● Examination of divergent and congruent testimony from vested stakeholders; and,

● Identification of influential realms supporting conditions;

● Identification of correlations.

Steps also involve recognizing and working through barriers barring comprehensive inquiry into:

● Contradictions as well as consistencies;

● Supporting systems, relationships and mechanisms; as well as,

● Comprehensive system vulnerability and failure.

Steps also involve:

● Identification of cultural incompatibly;

● The identification of alternative solutions and their vulnerabilities;

● Exposing failures and developing an allied network; and,

● Concerted efforts toward solution strengthening, promotion and implementation.

The fifteen step process can contribute value to the disenfranchised and serve to inspire a heavily fortified adversary toward negotiations as a means of neutralizing or minimizing conflict which they, themselves, may have long ago initiated. It represents a guiding light upon a shared path forward.

The process of negotiation is unique to every negotiator and the situations which compel them toward agreement. An evolved process is likely to produce opportunities to engage target-specific negotiations along a timeline of guided transformation, ending in a final negotiation intended to secure an overarching objective.

Whether comprised of one or many negotiations, good faith efforts generally follow a similar rhythm of:

● First gestures;

● The presentation of an offer,

● Substantiating one’s position through sound argument;

● The dissection of compromise; and,

● The building of ideally mutually beneficial accord.

Every negotiator will bring their own style, nuance and technique to a negotiation situation, and certainly, the above steps in the process may deviate in sequence. Indeed, break-downs, threats and uneven solutions may abound.

Positions, arguments and proposals share a platform of reason, but, argument forms the defense for all. Argument, then, must become a tempered, sharp, agile and accurate instrument of both offense and defense.

The potential for intimidation and negative outcome can be greatly reduced and the process made more predictable through:

● The development of a rational, defensible argument, which includes;

     ❍ Defining your position;

     ❍ Directing your argument toward the appropriate recipient;

     ❍ Establishing the basis of your argument;

     ❍ Better identifying its strengths, vulnerabilities and nuance;

     ❍ Anticipating specific challenges likely to be posed by your adversary; and

     ❍ Bolstering your abilities to refute counter-argument.

● The institution of measures to strengthen argument where it may be weak;

● The development of a strategic approach to the negotiation process; and,

● Practiced engagement.

Further beneficial reading in You And What Army?... specific to this chapter’s interests and abilities:

Identifying and Managing Situational Variables Throughout Negotiations

Enhance Negotiation Predictability through the Development of Influential Strategies Based on Rational Decision

The Intelligence Quotient: Empowering Your Negotiating Position with Information

Neutralizing False Leads and Misinformation Campaigns in Negotiations

Become a Persuasive Negotiator Through Better Communication

Turn Objections into Concessions and Adversaries into Advocates in Negotiations

Tipping the Balance: Identifying and Implementing Leverage to Strengthen Your Negotiating Position