Human beings are born solitary, but everywhere they are in chains – daisy chains – of interactivity. Social actions are makeshift forms, often courageous, sometimes ridiculous, always strange. And in a way, every social action is a negotiation, a compromise between ‘his,’ ‘her’ or ‘their’ wish and yours. Andy Warhol
Image source: Flickr – Giuseppe Calsamiglia (CC BY ND 2.0)
During a demanding negotiation, when interests at stake are radically divergent and it seems that there is no more room for the dialogue, a radical shift in the approach to the pourparler could be the turning point of the whole negotiation, even in case of major discussions over national interests, such as the controversial right of the Islamic Republic of Iran to carry on the uranium enrichment process started in 2006.
In effect, this article highlights how a radical shift of the Iranian negotiators’ approach to the nuclear dossier, which opposed the Islamic Republic to the international community, led to the signature of the so-called Vienna Agreement in July 2015.
By shunning the bombastic and confrontational language that had become the hallmark of the Islamic Republic’s officials, Mr. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iranian Foreign Minister and chief of the Iranian delegation, build up a personal relation with foreign diplomats thanks to his easy smile and mastery of English.
In conclusion, when the negotiation is stuck and all options seem inconsistent, a “smile” approach to the negotiation could be more useful than a simple force demonstration, and, in some cases, it could even bring to make an agreement over a nuclear issue possible.
Although empathy is considered to be at the heart of several crucial sectors – from product development to customer service, including also leadership, failing to recognise its limits can impair individual and organisational performance.
Problem #1: It’s exhausting
Being an heavy-duty cognitive task empathy depletes our mental resources.
Several studies on health and human professionals, as well as those who work for charities and other non profits, show that empathy is exhausting, in any role in which it’s a primary aspect of the job.
Problem #2: It’s zero-sum
Empathy doesn’t just drain energy and cognitive resources – it also depletes itself.
The more empathy we devote to one aspect of our life, for example our job, the less is left for others (family for instance). Moreover the zero-sum problem leads to another type of trade off: empathy toward insiders – people in our team or organisation- can limit our capacity to empathise with people outside our circles.
Problem #3: It can erode ethics
Empathy can cause lapses in ethical judgment. Extreme loyalty toward insiders may push us to take their interests as our own and to overlook transgressions, or even worse to behave badly ourselves. With actions like cheating or stealing to benefit those in the immediate circle people put empathy for a few before justice for all.
So how to rein in a land of excessive empathy?
As a manager there are a number of things you can do to mitigate these problems.
1. Split up the work
2. Make it less of a sacrifice
3. Give people breaks
Despite its limitations, empathy is essential at work.Understanding and responding to the needs, interests and desires of human beings involves some of the hardest work of all. Managers shouldlook for ways to give employees breaks,Encourage individuals to take time to focus on their interests alone. When people feel restored they’re better able to perform the demanding task of listening to what others need.
Image source: Flickr – AleKsa MX (CC-BY 2.0)
The same things can be seen in a different way from people belonging to different countries. This fact could treathen your work team and impair business relationships with your partners.
In an article by Paul Sanders and Donnie MacNicol, you can find ten steps for dealing with different culture:
- Learn about how your values, attitudes, behaviors and communication style may be perceived by someone from another culture
- Relate to each person as an individual and not as a stereotype
- Understand who can make what decisions as it may be at a different level than in your own organization
- Identify if their management style is more typically masculine or feminine―assertive and competitive or modest and caring respectively
- Understand if they have a short-term or long-term view as this will affect the way and the speed at which projects are assessed, justified and decisions made
- Identify their need for structure and certainty as this may vary and affect the level of control, definition, risk taking and governance
- Develop your empathy skills and show people you are making every effort to see and feel things as they do
- If you are unsure what is appropriate, be more structured and have more explicit communication rather than less
- Ask each person how they would like to be addressed and treated
- Assume nothing―a smile and handshake are not necessarily an agreement, “yes” can mean “no”, unsmiling may not mean unfriendly, silence may not mean disagreement
Image source: Wikipedia (CC-BY-SA 2.0)
The word diplomacy often invokes power and intrigues. Nonetheless, diplomats deal with the world’s biggest problems. Although people have often the impression that diplomacy does little for the wealth of the world, the world would be worse without it.
In this article Anna Mar, underlining the role of diplomacy in the relations among countries, suggests to use diplomatic techniques and strategies in everyday business negotiations.
She points out 15 diplomatic strategies that can be used:
- Use an advocate (Shutter diplomacy)
- Use of objective criteria
- Tit for tat
- Buy time
- Ignore imposed constraints
- Name the trick
- Call bluffs
- Build golden bridges
- Avoid escalation
- Make your ideas seem their ideas
- Never allow your opponent to lose face
- Code words and politeness
- Set uo your opponent’s victory speech
To read more about these strategies, click here
Image source: Flickr – Immaginario diplomatico (CC – BY – NC – ND 2.0)