Bargaining with the devil


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Should you bargain with the Devil? In an age of terror, national leaders face this question every day, often also facing their own devils in private disputes. In his new book, "Bargaining with the Devil: When to negotiate,when to fight", Robert Mnookin suggests that it is more sensible to negotiate than to fight. In this session of "We Read for You" Prof David Venter, an internationally recognised expert in the field of negotiation, conflict resolution and leadership, delves into the core messages of this book.

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Bargaining with the devil

  1. 1. Bargaining with the Devil When to Negotiate, when to Fight By Robert Mnookin Presented by Prof David Venter Vlerick Leuven Gent Business SchoolYour partner in world-classbusiness learningWe Read for You:August 2012
  2. 2. Ponder the following post 9/11 dilemma: Text: Calibri normal font-weight, 28pt • Second level, 24pt  Third level, 20pt - Fourth level, 20pt
  3. 3. Is negotiation always the best answer?The book represents Robert Mnookin’s journey in his quest to answer this vexing question
  4. 4. The protagonists argue: ALWAYS be willing to negotiate ALWAYS seek a solution by way of PROBLEM-SOLVING – explore the interests of the parties with reference to a just solution or conflict You have NOTHING TO LOSE! Negotiation does not imply GIVING UP EVERYTHING IMPORTANT THE CONCESSION: your willingness to sit down with the other party to explore a possible deal preferable to your BEST ALTERNATIVES
  5. 5. The antagonists argue: NEVER negotiate with the devil Do not SELL YOUR SOUL (Faust) The devil is CLEVER AND UNSCRUPULOUS – you are seduced with what you desperately desire, sacrificing your integrity as you are lead down the garden path “I have been charged by the president to make sure that none of the tyrannies of the world are negotiated with. We do not negotiate with evil: we defeat it“- Dick Cheney
  6. 6. Transcend black-white thinkingRegister a plea to think beyond categoriesProponents and opponents are both correct depending upon the example they choose WHITE BLACKAre these two of the greatest heros?
  7. 7. Churchill May 1940 Dark times for Britain France on the verge of capitulation The USA very reluctant to become involved Mussolini offers to mediate between Britain and Nazi Germany Five days of internal discussions and testing of arguments Churchill decrees not to negotiate with Hitler – the devil
  8. 8. Nelson Mandela 27 years of incarceration ANC committed to armed struggle Secret negotiations with the apartheid regime“I decided it was time to initiate negotiations and I did so without asking because I knew what the answer would be.“
  9. 9. Who was right? Both decisions perfectly defensable and in hindsight sensible How to make wise decisions when there are no categorical answers? The book offers a framework A wise decisional process involves three challenges:  A just ‘’cost-benefit-analysis”  Avoiding psychological and emotional traps  Weighing ethical and pragmatic arguments
  10. 10. A cost-benefit analysis – Mr Spock’s five questions Which interests are at stake? What are the alternatives if you do not negotiate? Are there negotiation outcomes that meet the interests of both parties better than their best alternatives? How strong are the chances that an agreement could be implemented? What are the costs of negotiating? Is your best alternative legitimate and morally defensible?
  11. 11. Applied to Afghanistan: negotiate or fight? The Mnookin‘s analysisWhich interests were at stake?  For the US: defend human lives and avoid future terrorist attacks  For theTaliban: stay in power and maintain Islamic law  The alternatives to negotiating?  For the US: military intervention  For the Taliban: guerrilla warfare  Were there negotiation outcomes that could satisfy the interests of all the parties that were preferable to their best alternatives?  The Clinton administration made every attempt to close the training camps and negotiate extradition, but the Taliban were unable to deliver
  12. 12. Applied to Afghanistan: negotiate or fight? The Mnookin‘s analysis How good were the chances an agreement could be implemented?  Bin Laden’s influence over the Taliban was larger than the inverse What would the cost be of negotiating?  Mnookin saw a high cost – the Taliban were no innocent party; they tolerated and suppoted Islamitische terrorists. The Clinton administration had publicly warned the Taliban that they would be held responsible for terrorist attacks. The credibility of the US vis a vis terrorist groups was at stake. Negotiation under such circumstances could create a dangerous precedent. Was America’s best altenative legitimate and morally defensible?  Yes, according to Mnookin. Bin Laden had declared war on the US, a military response was therefore legally justified  MNOOKIN ADVISED NOT TO NEGOTIATE!
  13. 13. Applied closer to home You are the CEO/founder of a high tech organisation. You entered into a joint venture for five years with a Japanese firm to produce your medical prosthesis and distribute it on the Japanese and Asian markets You explicitly excluded China from the agreement - your partner could not sell any competitive products in China You discover that your partner went behind your back and sold a comparable product in China On confronting your partner, you receive a laconic reaction devoid of an excuse. He sees nothing wrong in stealing your know-how. He denies contravening the agreement, stating you do not understand the Chinese market, and fail to appreciate that the royalties you require are too high and should be renegotiated ....
  14. 14. Your natural reaction You are shocked and feel threatened Your instinct entices you to fight and to take your partner to court But is this a just financial, rational decision? Have you been confronted with the devil? Who is the devil?
  15. 15. Our reasoning and the ‘Devil’ Our dualistic desision-making system:  Analytic reasoning  Concious, analytic, systematic - rational  Intuitive reasoning  Automatic, self-evident, instinctive – trigger-based  Survival
  16. 16. Our instinctive reaction! Amygdala – An almond shaped cluster of small structures in the area of the lymbic system that plays an important role in regulating emotions such as anger, anxiety, love and grief. It is an archaic part of the brain. Emotional highjacks. Fight or flight (survival). Be proactive not reactive! Do not take revenge, go for what you wish.
  17. 17. Negative traps – pro fighting Tribalism  Group identity – we are what we think Demonising  The other side not only does bad things, but is bad Dehumanisation  The other side is inferior, not even human (racisim) Moralism  Convinced of your own view, you are absolutely correct Zero-sum assumption  Everything that accrues to the other party must necessarily be bad for you; everything the other party wins you lose Call to action  Missionary leader
  18. 18. Positive traps – negotiation Universalism  All people are equal Contextual rationalising  Every behaviour can be unpacked, understood and forgiven based on the external factor Rehabilitation  Everyone can change and deserves a second chance Shared mistakes and responsibilities  Everyone needs to take note of their share of guilt Win-win  The pie can always be enlarged Reconciliation  A negotiated solution is always better Peace call  The leader calls for conflict to be prevented
  19. 19. The power of NO!Positive traps accompany the anguish of notdamaging the relationship, not falling intoconflictHow do you say no, do you create a boundarythat facilitates saying yes, despite what is truelyimportant What is the “underlying yes” What do you not want? What do you then truely want?
  20. 20. Avoiding the traps Each trap clouds our judgement about our negotiation partners Most of us have a preference for one of the traps in the series Our preference is a function of our personal style, rooted in the soils of our deepest identity and our world view  A fighter against unfairness in a hard world in which everyone takes advantage of everyone else at the slightest opportunity  There is something good in everyone, this we should focus on We must move beyond the traps in order to arrive at a well-founded analysis
  21. 21. The NQ® (Negotiation Intelligence) model Unlock positions Knowledge Unlock value Skills Unlock a safety kit Attitude The master key
  22. 22. Mr Spock on the Joint VentureInterests and possible areas of confluence: definitive tangentsAlternative: a lawsuit In China very difficult, In Japan tedious with many risks, In California unlikely as this organisation has never operated there
  23. 23. The clash between utilatarianism and identity What if your analysis tells you to negotiate, but this is inconsistent with who you are; that for which you stand? You are torn between principles and pragmatism
  24. 24. Sharansky vs the KGB Natan Sharansky, a Russian Jew was confronted with a dilemma He stood accused of treason – framed deliberately He was a member of the Zionist movement – his crime In exchange for a confession and rejection of the Zionist movement, he was offered joining his family after a short imprisonment For nine years, despite forced labour, he persistently refuses to negotiate with the ‘Devil’ The Spock analysis is not simple, but the basis of his unflinching behaviour was “a feeling that as long as you continue to say no, you are a free person“ – with his mathematical brain he rationalised....
  25. 25. Killing Kasztner
  26. 26. Rudolf Kasztner Jewish leader in occupied Hungary in WWII He chooses to negotiate with Adolf Eichmann (SS colonel) to save Jewish lives After excrutiatingly difficult negotiations, he “buys” 1648 lives from the Nazi’s He returns to the war zone to negotiate a new deal with SS officer Becher at the end of WWII He relocates to Israel and is convicted of Nazi- collaboration – did he sell his soul to the Devil? The conviction is overturned, but he is murdered by an extremist
  27. 27. A wise but painful choice? Neurologists increasingly understand how emotional decisions are arrived at Often based on intuitive processes (short cuts) – we see something happen, hear something happen and immediately arrive at a conclusion Short cuts: the biggest enemy of negotiation and conflict  Thinking styles can be an impediment (convergent thinking)  Leads to assumptions and „self fulfilling prophecies“ Should we throw intuition overboard?  No, it’s an important source of information  But, intuition must be subjected to analysis to prevent it being a trap  If a contrast remains, a painful decision has to be made
  28. 28. A strong preference for pragmatism: a painful choice Painful, because unfairness demands more than utilitarianism – it cries out for satisfying resolution Choosing for pragmatism represents a choice between seeking compensation for the past and preparing for a better future To move ahead you need to often give the Devil something that the Devil does not deserve – an offer on the altar of pragmatism can be a bitter pill to swallow
  29. 29. Thus: Must you always negotiate? – No, but more often than you think or wish The book provides no answer, but – more meaningfully – a set of questions to ponder to enhance your insight and ultimate choice Mnookin advises to always involve an extreme person in the decision-making process Maintain a strong preference for negotiation to protect against falling prey to the different traps. You thus shift the responsibility for proof to those who do not wish to negotiate, but fight – compelling them to justify their stimulus for fighting
  30. 30. Other masterly examplesIBM – Fujitsu: Theft of an “operating system“?
  31. 31. San Francisco Symphony Orchestra labour dispute
  32. 32. Divorce involving children and accrual
  33. 33. Three family members and an inheritance
  34. 34. I wish you well in your endeavours to disempower the Devil!