Negotiating with the Dangerous and Highly Unstable

From the Indisputably blog

Last week Jackie Nolan-Haley told us of Fordham’s program on Negotiating with the Dangerous, which was headlined by our very own leader Andrea.  And just yesterday an article of another sort of dangerous negotiation crossed my desk – negotiating with toddlers.   And you best be careful.  Why?  The piece’s conclusion:  having a toddler is like engaging in ongoing hostage negotiations with a highly unstable person.  In my house, we’re ground zero for these kinds of negotiations with our toddler and our non-toddler 3 and 1/2 year-old likes to join in the action every now and again.  Everything is a negotiation, and yes I mean everything.

To share the pain (uh, I mean joy), here is the article’s list of 8 characteristics of such negotiation encounters:

  1. The list of demands aren’t always clear, but when announced, they are impossibly specific
  2. They protest even when you give them exactly what they want
  3. Just when you think the negotiation is going well, the subject’s demeanor changes
  4. Rational every day conversations go on for some time, then turn delusional and nonsensical in a moment
  5. When negotiations go south, they do so in a hurry
  6. Threats and bribery are omnipresent
  7. Even when you want the same thing, there still might be trouble
  8. There is no such thing as victory, only a delay of the inevitable

This last item is summed up nicely in an experience that all parents experience at one time or another:

On occasion, thanks to a combination of the vagaries of the toddler’s mood, parental preparedness (snacks!) and perhaps a fortuitous alignment of the planets, a negotiation with a toddler goes well. The toddler uses the bathroom, helps dress themselves, and even finds and puts on (!) their coat. This can cause the shocked (and relieved) parents to imagine that the days of constant battles won’t last forever. But then, when it comes time to load them into the car seat, they roll over and attempt to spin away: “I don’t want to sit in that seat. You sit there. Daddy, I want to drive!”

                        author

Art Hinshaw

Art Hinshaw’s research and teaching interests lie in the field of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), primarily mediation and negotiation. His research bridges ADR theory and practice, and his teaching responsibilities include the Lodestar Mediation Clinic and Negotiation among other ADR courses. Professor Hinshaw is active in the ADR community having… MORE >

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