Jim Camp e-book “Press On” Chapter 4 pt 1 “Negotiation mastery: Effective decision making in every interaction and relationship”
If you’ve read this far, I hope you’ve begun to see that your life is filled with decisions. I have also attempted to show how the decisions we make (or don’t make) impact others through the network of relationships, interactions, roles, and responsibilities that you have or are part of. In my life’s work as a negotiator and a negotiation coach, I have come to a deep awareness of the pain, stress and other avoidable consequences of not knowing, understanding, living and interacting in a way that is congruent with an accurate conception of human nature and the principles that drive human behavior.
If we don’t understand the nature of a thing – what it is in itself – it becomes very hard to use it well. We accept this instinctively when we are dealing with inanimate things such as matter and energy. We also accept it when dealing with animals. But we have a tendency to go horribly wrong when it applies to human beings and human nature. If we don’t understand human nature, it is very hard to derive valid principles that drive human behavior. And few aspects of our lives as a community clearly reflect the effects and impact of this confusion as do our interactions and interacting with each other – both within and outside the context of a relationship with the other person or group. As a result, human interactions become intensely stressful and painful and relationships become shot through with dysfunction.
In keeping with the requirement of starting with reality, I realize that a logical starting point would be to describe human nature before describing the principles that drive human behavior within the context of interactions and relationships. But this is not a book on psychology or anthropology. To be faithful to my M&P for writing this book, I will invert this order. I hope once you see the principles that drive behavior in the context of interactions and relationships, you will see better see the nature from which these must necessarily flow. It’s a roundabout way of describing things, but in this case, I decided it’s a more effective one.
In earlier chapters, I strove to increase your awareness of the pervasive influence and impact of your decisions through the network of roles, relationships and interactions you are a part of. In this chapter, I shall try to increase your awareness of one of the most frequent ‘types’ of interaction you and I engage in within that network of roles, relationships and interactions. We engage in it very frequently each day, and over the course of our lives. That interaction is the attempt to come to agreement with others. This attempt is termed ‘negotiation’.
My discovery of what a negotiation actually is
Shortly after I left military service, I started flying commercial airplanes. At the time, I had a young family and needed to make ends meet. In the course of trying to earn a supplementary income, I wanted buy certain goods from dealers in Hong Kong and sell them in America. I wasn’t making much progress. I was getting frustrated with the lack of success. It was at that point that I stumbled on an insight that changed the trajectory of my life. It was the definition of negotiation that I checked out in a dictionary, at a bookstore in Hong Kong. This is what I discovered in that old edition of the Oxford English Dictionary:
A negotiation is the effort to bring about an agreement between two or more parties with all parties having the right to veto.
4 decades later, I can still clearly remember the particular place, moment, and the intensity of the experience. In every interaction in which we attempt to come to an agreement with others, or they with us, each person has the right to veto – the right to say ‘No, I don’t agree’. It is a right you and every other person you interact and have a relationship with, have. Neither of you can take away that right because neither of you gave it to the other(s).
This insight led me to study the principles that drive human behavior – the inner structure and the contours of how we human beings actually relate and interact with each other, and how we can form durable, profitable, and ethical agreements with others. The Camp System of Negotiation, a System that can be used to negotiate agreements in every context, is built around the right we and others have, to say ‘no’. Too many man-made tragedies and problems – relationship dysfunction, personality disorders, divorce, deals that fall apart, friendships that disintegrate, litigation; conflicts and disputes in the home, workplace, public square and even on the net; diplomatic impasses, and armed conflict within and between individuals, groups, and countries – result from people saying ‘yes’ when they ought to say ‘no’, saying ‘no’ when they ought to say ‘yes’, and especially when they deny others the right to say ‘no’.
Typically, we have learned three responses when this right is taken away or in danger of being taken away: flight, fight, or compromise. I suggest a fourth one that does not require any of these three: negotiate. When people exercise their right to say it, and respect the right of the other party to also say it, they are negotiating. When they don’t respect or exercise it, they are not negotiating. They are engaging in manipulation, bullying, deception, or simply begging for a favor. The consequences, as pointed out above, are ugly.