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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Getting to Yes

Twenty years ago I sat in an Introduction to Political Science class, mesmerized. My young eyes were opened to a whole new category of thinking about relating with others, diplomacy, and finding agreement when it seems that there is no agreement to be found.

Twenty years later, I'm still grabbing onto snatches of what I remember from that class. One idea that has stuck all these years is the concept of "saving face." Working toward agreement while still honoring one another and respecting their dignity is vital. My poli-sci prof had us reading what is now an honored classic: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In. This book gave me some excellent tools for life--even a life lived outside of politics, diplomacy, or (these days) the corporate cubical. This book helped me look for common ground and focus on the outcome--what do we both want?--rather than seeing a conflict or negotiation as a battle in which to score points. It helped me see that victory doesn't have to be found in triumph over another, but victory can be found in achieving the desired outcome and keeping the human relationship protected.

I'm finding that as my children mature, I need to learn to apply this art to our parent-child relationship. No, I should not negotiate everything with my children. God clearly calls children to obedience to their parents and submission to authority. Nevertheless, I must not sinfully bulldoze my children into agreeing with me. Understanding how to search for what we both really want out of a conflict is extremely valuable. The principles in this book have helped me see that often the issue that appears on the surface is not the source of the conflict at all.

Take the common conflict of dress. Is my daughter coming out of her room in that atrocious dress because she is trying to stick it to me by dressing in a way I don't like? Or is she dressing that way because she failed to be responsible and get her laundry to the laundry room? Or is she choosing that get-up because someone hurt her feelings with a remark about her when she dressed "my way"? I can inflame the situation by simply scolding, or I can look more deeply and get us both to "yes" and leave our relationship strong.

Knowing all of this doesn't mean I'm good at it! This book came to my mind this week and I'm thinking it is time for me to re-read it.

1 comment:

Sharon said...

This post would be a good one for people in Australia to read at the moment as Japanese whalers do their work in nominally Australian waters which are supposedly a whale sanctuary, and they are harassed by the anti-whaling Sea Shepherd boats, but not by the Australian government. Reading the letters to the editor has shown me that there are two very polarised sides to the debate over whether the Sea Shepherd lobbyists should be out there in the Australian/Antarctic waters or not. But none seem to consider the possibility that the Japanese are really only continuing this whaling practice because they want to "save face". And as long as the Sea Shepherds are out there harassing the Japanese ships, keeping the issue front and centre in the public's mind, the Japanese won't back down, because that would certainly result in them "losing face" in their own eyes, if not the world's. perhaps a better method of ending this whaling would be to diplomatically work to convince the Japanese that the whaling hurts their "face" in the eyes of the world - and increasingly, perhaps, in the eyes of the Japanese - and stopping the whaling would actually protect and enhance their reputation.

Far cry from household applications, I know. That's a turnabout from how we usually correspond, isn't it?

xS

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