Imagine what a power position looks like. There are many motivators in life, such as love, comfort, wealth, and power. Each of these can be interrelated and be a necessary component of the other. As I help individuals (and entities) pursue and preserve their interests, I have discovered that one of the deeper motivators was power. Working with these clients it was clear that all moves would be made in an arena, on a field, or in a ring, and the interactions would be adversarial. Even when we discussed getting the parties “to the table,” the language and attitudes were about mitigating risks, not compromise. There’s no shortage of literature on being more dominant; from posture to tone and word choices, clothes, or a handshake.
Obviously the intention of taking a power position is to advance (or defend), but what often happens is gridlock. Then, the matter escalates to a game of chicken or a zero-sum winner-takes-all event. Regardless of the outcome, both parties lose. There are costs associated with these kill or be killed scenarios and the least of which is financial. It has been said many times that emotionality drives our decisions, and rationality determines how we go about those decisions. It makes sense that disagreements often seem irrational, though we use refined terms such as “cease and desist,” “clear and convincing,” “at fault,” etc. If parties to a disagreement truly want to make progress, (which is why we want power) they have to think outside of the box. Going through the gridlock to get at the emotionality of disagreement is one way to do that. For a whole lot of legal reasons, clients of attorneys are often told not to apologize.
While there is some legal precedent to support this, the consequence tends to be that the anxiety and adversarial attitudes are amplified. But, if you were lucky enough to see a fire be put out before it even got started with a simple “I’m sorry,” you probably missed what actually just happened. What happened is that a ton of money, energy, angst, and relationships were saved. It turns out that simple, quick, and counter-intuitive words are quite powerful. It is understandable that people don’t say I am sorry even when they really want to. There are concerns that doing so will invite more blame than the individual is actually responsible for or that they cannot (or do not) trust the other party to engage in a good-faith conversation and move forward without using the apology as ammunition. Mediation is a good (and much cheaper) way to meet on neutral territory at an actual table and have confidential conversations.
To learn more, please contact me.