Thursday, January 10, 2019

What is the real art of making a deal?

We have had a government shutdown for close to 20 days already.  Depending on whose perspective you are are aligned with there is blame on the other side.  The real question though is what is this accomplishing?  What are the real costs and consequences as by products of this shutdown?  Does stubbornness make a solution that will truly benefit either party?  

I do not profess to be able to answer these questions in a resolute way.  From my perspective the shutdown blame is due to the stubbornness and unwilliingness to truly negotiate by the perpetrator who originally took responsibility for the shutdown.  Although I cannot answer how to resolve this with the particular parties involved I can suggest ways to negotiate without hitting a wall for those who are a bit more tactful.  

I recently finished reading a book called Crucial Conversations and learned many valuable skills that are important in every day life, business and community.  A key take away is why people need to negotiate and disagree in the first place.  Most of us have a set of perceptions of our own comfort zone.  When we fear that this is being infringed upon we put a protective shield around ourselves.  We become charged up in self defense which creates more tension.  We may argue or say the wrong things.  This is not productive.  

If we want to be able to have a conversation with others we need to break down this cycle.  We become stubborn if someone disagrees with our perspective because we don't want to feel embarrassed.  We may argue because we want to protect our individual beliefs. We need to be able to sit back and take a breath. I just came across a great meditation exercise called how to be mindful in an argument. Click here.

Xenophobia is created by propaganda and lies to stoke fear. This has become a method of message delivery to divide rather than unite our country since the most recent inauguration.  If people are taught to believe that people unlike them are a threat to their safety and jobs they will act reactively.   The crisis at the wall is being used as a propaganda tool to stoke these fears.  One side will only settle at a price that will steeply hurt many others to save face.  There is no conversation or plan to settle this.  

A few days ago I was in line at Starbucks with a man wearing a MAGA hat.  Normally we would be on total opposite sides of the spectrum.  I decided to ask him if he was truly happy with the government shutdown and how our president was handling things.  (please note I do not capitalize this particular president).  He shared why he still believed in this president and I responsively shared my concerns.  I mentioned the book Crucial Conversations and told him I felt much of this countries divisiveness would be solved if people actually talked to each other.  He and I chatted a bit more and in the end he asked for the name of the book and said he would like to read it.  I don't know if I changed his perceptions but perhaps I opened him up to more conversation.  This is what we all need.  

The real art of the deal is being able to come to the table and talk through critical issues until there are some steps towards resolution.  This can then be followed up with a more detailed action plan.  It is time to take a time out from the vicious rhetoric and figure out how to run this country and end this government shutdown in a way that is safe and will benefit all citizens.    For those not involved in politics the skills I learned from this book can be used in everyday life to better communicate and resolve smaller issues before they become bigger.  

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys thinking outside the box and working to help make the world a better place.  In her free time she does yoga, walks her dog and is often found reading at a local coffee shop.  If you see her at Starbucks be sure to say hello.  

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