Archive for February, 2014

What is holding you back?

February 28, 2014

There are many reasons why individuals and teams negotiate badly. But one is the lack of insight into the event at hand. What are you delivering to your adversary in this event? What is holding back this event from moving forward? What is emotionally troubling you? And your adversary? What are you going to communicate? How will you communicate it? Ask yourself this simple question: Who must see what, now? Answer it beginning with yourself – and you will start developing the insight you require.

Santhosh Ebroo
Camp Negotiation Coach

“Who must see what, now? Answer it beginning with yourself ….” – fantastic Santhosh! A much bettet question than ‘what should I do” which does not get us into the visual/emotional part of the brain where decisions happen. -Wim


Denying the existence of denial

February 23, 2014

Someone you are dealing with might be in pain. They may feel it. You may see that pain very clearly. But amazingly, they may not see it even though they are the ones going through it. This is often referred to as ‘denial’ by amateur and professional psychotherapists alike. Not seeing their problem and pain makes it hard for many of us to take constructive action. So what is the difference between experiencing pain and seeing it?

Maybe this analogy will help. A baby feels uncomfortable with a messy diaper. This does not stop them from messing in their diaper. They don’t even fuss right away about the discomfort often and let their parent know. But even a week or two after they are toilet trained, they see much more clearly the discomfort/pain of having a messy diaper. How does this change happen?

Take a look at how parents toilet train their kids. We turn toilet training into an instructive game. We sit them down on the toilet. Sometimes something happens, and when it does, we are very happy. They see it, and they are happy. They see us becoming more and more unhappy when they don’t use the toilet since we now know that they can go on their own. But they don’t see the problem with going in thier diaper quite yet. After awhile, going on the toilet becomes a habit. It feels weird not to do it on the toilet after awhile. Eventually, they become toilet trained. Then one day when they have an accident, they see how CRAZY it is to mess in your pants. We have to make a lot of effort to help them get to this point.

If you have someone who is headed for pain, or is even in pain, and you want them to just see what you see and be logical and fix it, then you are about as silly looking as a parent who wants their toddler to spontaneously toilet train.

Invite them to sit on whatever proverbial toilet is in play and see what happens. Make it part of a regular pattern. Have fun with it and them. If they refuse, don’t be angry. They are just being a baby. Just let them know they may have to find someone else to change their proverbial diaper if the won’t play the game with you.

If you ‘can’t’ stop rescuing them from their problem and pain, and you are unhappy with it, then complain. Maybe someone will listen and know how to help you.

Not all kids are easy to toilet train, for sure, but you at least want to make sure the problem is not you.

The scientific method of investigation – not enough to make sense of life

February 22, 2014

The Ants and the Pen

An ant one day strayed across a piece of paper and saw a pen writing in fine, black strokes.
‘How wonderful this is!’ said the ant. This remarkable thing with a life of its own, makes squiggles on this beautiful surface, to such an extent and with such energy that it is equal to the efforts of all the ants in the world. And the squiggles it makes! These resemble ant: not one, but millions, all run together.”
He repeated his ideas to another ant, who was equally interested. He praised the powers of observation and reflection of the first ant.
But another ant said: “Profiting, it must be admitted, by your efforts, I have observed this strange object. But I have determined that it is not the master of this work. You failed to notice that this pen is attached to certaion other objects, which surround it and drive its way. These should be considered as the moving factor, and given credit.’Thus were fingers discovered by the ants.
But another ant, after a long time, climbed over the fingers and realised they comprised a hand, which he thoroughly explored, after the manner of ants, by scrambling all over it.
He returned to his fellows: ‘Ants,’ he cried, ‘I have news of importance for you. Those smaller objects are part of a large one. It is this which gives motion to them.’
But then it was discovered that the hand was attached to a body, and that there were two hands, and that there were feet that did no writing.
The investigations continue. Of the mechanics of writing, the ants have a fair idea. Of the meaning and intention of the writing, and how it is ultimately controlled, they will not find out by their customary method of investigation. Because they are not ‘literate’.

from Caravan of Dreams by Idries Shah
– this allegory , based on an argument of Rumi’s (Mathnavi IV) was used by the teacher Saad el-Din Jabravi, who died in Damascus in 1335. His tales are still current, and accompanied by the argument that allegory is essential to the human mind to envisage ideas which cannot be captured by any other method.

Go to to find more on this subject including books by Idries Shah

How not to get caught in the middle

February 21, 2014

Often in families and other situations, individuals having a conflict want you to take a side. Frequently they both want you to do this. The way to deal with this is to tell either of them if they approach you that you will help them with their problem, but they are going to have to be willing to spend time with you to prepare for the next interaction with the other person. If they start to do this with you and they can’t agree with what you want to help them accomplish, which should always include demonstration of respect and truthfulness, then you let them know you can’t help.
You would be telling the truth, and you should only side with the truth in a conflict anyways.

The Hidden Obstacle to our Honor

February 19, 2014

Think about the last time someone told you ‘no’ – personal or business. It could have been in response to anything you have asked for that you cared about – assistance, understanding, some kind attention, or even a discount – reasonable requests in your mind.
But the answer was ‘no’.
If you took the time to even bother to relect on your last serious’no’ from someone, it is probably not a pleasant memory – might even upset you now to think about it. Were you angry or irritated or did you feel sad or even ashamed?
If you accepted the no, and went along with it, you probably felt hurt, sad or weak.
If you did not accept it, you probably felt angry and showed it, maybe bullied or tantrumed, or even lied to get your way.
Whichever way we go, hearing ‘no’ tends to put most of us in quite a bind emotionally.
I have observed that most of us go to great lengths to avoid hearing ‘no’ and these feelings. We hate the bind. We feel shame about being stuck in it. We agree that others should be ashamed when they are in the same bind. Rather than simply hear no and work with it, we compromise quickly and/or manipulate instead, rushing ourselves or others to doomed agreements. We can’t see ‘no’ as simply a decision. We won’t see the effort to continue to seek agreement as honorable activity in and of itself, even if agreement is not reached. We rush to the agreement so we can get out of the shameful shadow of no. We also don’t want to shame others, so we avoid telling them no even when great harm is going to be the likely result.
I see his as a weakness in our culture that adds to unnecessary human suffering at all levels. Past cultural practices that were clearly immoral such as the enslavement of people of African descent and dueling with pistols were rooted in taking away people’s right and responsibility to hear and say no and negotiate for what they wanted. See Kwame Anthony Appiah’s excellent treatment of these topics in his book, The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen. . Our great reluctance to engage with ‘no’ in our interactions makes us susceptible to exploitation by others and to be exploitive ourselves. The freedom to disagree and make efforts to reach agreements in our own way is essential to the dignity and sustainable progress of human beings. Failure to exercise that freedom leads to the disintegration of social cooperation at all levels. Our fear of interacting with each other in more authentic ways prevents us from better exposing the elements of our shared problems that are simply not solvable in isolation from each other. It creates a paranoid culture whose members suffer from a constantly nagging sense of danger and worry that they are not doing enough to protect themselves.
This entire situation is fortified by an honor code that dictates that putting yourself in a position where you are told no is tantamount to a sort of social death. We either stubbornly ‘go it alone’ or ‘go along’ full of resentment.

But there is an alternative. We can learn to relate to being told no, or saying no, differently. We can see it instead as an opportunity to negotiate. Careful study of negotiation reveals its definitions, principles, and rules. Negotiation has not been given proper respect by highly esteemed academics to the point where they have even tried to change its definition to put it in sync with the curiously destructive honor system that has developed around being told no. The folks at Camp have made available to us a knowledge base and opportunity for learning that can elevate our encounters with no to a more evolved level of human interaction. Respect, honesty and transparency can become the order of the day. Since only stable, ethical, and profitable agreements can provide the necessary foundation for a better society and world, we have a moral obligation to elevate negotiation, our response to no, to a place of honor in our collective psyche.

The real dishonor is not in being told no or in saying no. The real dishonor is in not rising to the challenge that being told ‘no’ presents by responding with our best effort to seek agreement. Any effort to negotiate that is respectful ought to be celebrated by our society. We should praise each other and especially our children for such effort. Quick and shoddy agreements that are rushed into out of a fear of hearing no should be sources of shame and embarrassment.
Instead these shoddy agreements are celebrated. We refer to these hurried compromises as the unavoidable costs of doing business, or of being married, or of being parents, or of being in politics. We call each other ‘practical’ and ‘tough’. No way. These are costs of being lazy, cowardly, unimaginative and stale. We can do better. We must, or we risk being looked back on with shame by future generations. Time to restore honor to our interactions.

Quality Agreements CANNOT be built on win-win, trust, or ‘relationship’ – a negotation amusement park can be though.

February 11, 2014

Thinking In terms of building vision in a negotiation, what can we show or demonstrate to the other party? You can show respect. Can you show trust? You can show kindness. Can you show relationship? You can show a benefit of your product or service. Can you show win-win? defense? offense? The analogy with sports , also a human performance event, is illustrative. In football, you can show run and pass instead. Can you show offense? If you ask a football coach what happened on the field, he is not going to say ‘offense’. If a ball is intercepted, he is going to say ‘tackle!”. If as an excuse, his player says he thought he was still on ‘offense’ , anyone would call what he was saying absurd and pointless and not even worthy of a pee-wee player. We are in the realm of professional negotiation here, and we can’t even agree to talk about what really happens in a negotiation using relevant terminology. How did it come to this? I love blaming Harvard for it, but it has to be a deeper problem in our culture and psyches.

Sports talk radio is built on the discussion of terms that have a tenuous relationship at best to the reality of team performance. You hear words like like ‘chemistry’, ‘momentum’, getting ‘better’ here and ‘better’ there, then they start making their predictions/guessses about how things are going to play out. They don’t really say anything at all that is relevant to having a solid performance on the field. They are entertainers. Jim Camp called use of equivalent terms in negotiation (win-win, relationship) ‘mental masturbation’ , but that may sound too harsh to practioners. Call it entertainment, and feel good about it, but don’t call it relevant to valid preparation for a human performance event.

Teenagers seem to seek out preventable pain, but there is a wisdom to their seemingly self-destructive ways

February 10, 2014

Like a lot of parents, I watch my teenagers make preventable errors that cause them pain. Don’t get me wrong, I try to warn them. I talk to them about things in all manner of ways. I even shut up and listen once in awhile. Now these kids are not stupid. They have the intelligence to see that their choices defy logic. So why don’t they use that intelligence?

I think they need to screw up and feel pain. It toughens them. One thing in life is certain, no matter how well you prepare, you will still face hardship and pain. While they are with their parents, they have a safety net, and they can take risks and toughen their skin more safely than they will be able to when they are on their own.

The big X factor is drugs and alcohol in all this – not risk free at all. And what makes it worse is that the drugs or alcohol anesthetize their pain, so they don’t even get the benefit of getting tougher.



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