Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lack of Negotiation in US Politics

Have you ever been on an airplane and noticed the advertisements for the Karrass Negotiation Seminars? A few years back I had seen the piece so many times I decided to check it out and signed up for a class in Phoenix.

It was about a grand and lasted two days. I came away with two keys pieces of information that I use every day and will never forget.

1. Everything is NOT negotiable and 2. Win-Win is not a cliche, every successful negotiation, that will stand the test of time must have a win-win component.

That's what's missing in the American political debate. Both parties, and their fringe groups, want to engage in win-lose negotiation. When that's apparent in debate, the opposing side will always dig in their heels. Now we have some very well educated individuals running our congress so why haven't they applied the simple truths of a Karrass seminar?

Quite simply because they are in the spotlight, and if they don't attack, someone underneath them looking to gain ground will. Attacks attract sharks and media attention creates buzz and buzz leads to face-time. Face-time is what every unknown politician need to become known on capital hill. The noble gesture of serving in political office has been absent for more than a century...

To make the climate as hostile as possible the fringe groups who are willing to fight and demonstrate for their minority causes speak with a loud voice. Throw money behind a group like that and you have a monster that no politician can overcome. Rather than fight they embrace the monster - then become dependent on them for survival.

Win-Win negotiation requires that both parties are willing to let the other win - or at least feel as if they have won. This requires diplomacy, tact and a willingness to see the other persons point of view. None of this is happening in US politics.

The next person to enter the White House and hopefully the leadership positions in the congress need to attend a Karrass Negotiating event. Check them out at