20 August 2008

The Art of Negotiation

This isn’t an attack on the Government, may our leaders all live long and prosperous lives in the service of their country and not the service of themselves.

The art of negotiation, or the art of getting what you want, is a skill that has been perfected over many years by business gurus, but has yet to take into account what I call the ‘princess factor’.

The ‘princess factor’ also called by some ‘my little prince factor’, is a skillful and uncompromising almost savage negotiation technique between two hardened parties, you on the one side and your kids on the other.

The G8 in its trade negotiations uses it all the time. One side has a little tantrum and the other side gives in. The government makes endless use of this tactic, releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners from its very effective prison system, by giving in to every demand even when there is only the slightest hint or threat of a tantrum.

In fact, the government has so perfected the ‘princess factor’ that it seems to give in even when it is not negotiating; I think it is called “good will”.

We have to make concessions, sometimes very painful, but surely only if we can have something in return, you know small things like recognition, the right to survive, the right not to be murdered, trivial stuff.

“Oh”, they cry, “you wouldn’t understand what goes on behind the scenes the tough negotiation, the diplomacy and the painful concessions”.

To be fair, when I feel there is the slightest discontent brewing in our happy little home I immediately start the pacification process offering bribes and promises just to diffuse a potentially explosive situation.

Take the swimming pool incident or “debacle” as history will recall it. The word swimming pool was used in a completely different context, but they got it into their pretty little heads that I had promised to take them. I tried to reason, negotiate and bribe but to no avail. Truth is, I was tired and couldn’t be bothered but that didn’t seem to bother them. Then the ‘princess card’ was played. One spontaneously exploded into tantrum-land, one ran to her room and slammed the door and one grabbed hold of my leg crying and wouldn’t let go.

A three pronged attack that would make even Neptune’s trident seem impotent, using every one of the three princess factor negotiation techniques; tantrum, cold silent treatment and puppy dog eyes.

Needless to say we swam that afternoon.

I couldn’t help thinking, as the kids clung and pulled at me in the swimming pool, what would the government have done?

Well, release some prisoners for a start.