Negotiation, cliffs, and social capital

Ten days ago, after a short-term solution to the “fiscal cliff” was announced, the New York Times ran an article by James B. Stewart titled “In Budget Talks, Getting to ‘Yes'”.  Stewart had interviewed various academic experts on the negotiation approaches that the Republicans and Democrats had been employing. Suffice it to say that the experts were not impressed. Hard lines and high risks were carrying the day.

In particular, William Ury, one of the authors of the classic book “Getting to Yes” noted: “So much of what we’re seeing is being driven by emotion, anger, frustration, and feelings of betrayal.”  Daylian Cain, who teaches negotiation at the Yale School of Management, suggested that some lower-stress social events might “build some social capital for cliffs to come.”

I was struck by how clearly the sentiments of Dr. Ury and Professor Cain applied to families in conflict over money. So often, families find themselves driving wedges between family members over just those emotions — applied to money. Once they start down that path, low-key interactions can become rare or nonexistent. With no goodwill remaining, the next challenge is that much harder to overcome.

Posted in Basics of Mediation and Conflict, Conflict Resolution in the News, Family Wealth Mediation, Monday, January 28th, 2013