The Perfect Divorce? Try Aikido
Aikido, for most people, is some strange martial art that has little to do with them or their life. I am not going to recommend that after this article you suddenly should go take lessons. But there’s more here than meets the eye. I do think it may be worth your time to read this article and perhaps an article or two (below) about what aikido actually is and isn’t in terms of negotiations and mediation. Here’s an old joke. What’s the definition of the perfect divorce? It’s an agreement you BOTH don’t hate. I know you, attorneys out there got it, but most people haven’t heard that one unless they have had the lovely experience of getting unmarried.
I recently had a coaching client come into the office. She had a legal mediation that afternoon and decided to come to the office so she could get really centered about what the outcome of this mediation was going to be. After giving me the parameters for the mediation I asked a question. What can you do to help the other party “SAVE-FACE” while still getting what you want? I could tell that she hadn’t considered that parameter around her negotiations. Frequently we, all, get so caught up in the whole “who’s right and who’s wrong” mentality that we forget that the “other party” is also human and may be caught up as well. Sometimes considering what the other party may be looking forth can provide solutions that weren’t obvious in another mindset.
What is Aikido?
Forget for a moment that aikido is a martial art. Pretend instead, that a 5-year-old is charging you and the possibility of him/her injuring you is near zero. The question now is, how do you defuse this situation so the 5-year-old doesn’t hurt his or herself? So of changes, everything, doesn’t it? Aikido Concepts can be applied in all walks of life including coaching and mediation. Now lets’ go back to aikido as a martial art. Yes, I think everyone should study aikido even for a year so that you get how frail humans are and how we need to protect them from themselves. If more people grasped the concept that most negotiations are just misunderstanding, how much more peaceful could this world be? Unfortunately, while we cling to black/white or right/wrong thinking the solutions or outcomes are almost as violent as the wrongdoing.
Try this Next Time
Think about something or someone that has been a problem in your life, work or family. Now let’s go back to that joke I told at the beginning of this article. What would be a deal that you both wouldn’t hate? Is someone trying to save face? Let them. As long as you get what you want as well. Win-Win is a lot easier than you think it might be if you add a simple word to your negotiations. The word, “AND”. And, means that both of you are getting what you want. In the case of the client. She was interested in getting her money back and the opposing side was very interested in not admitting any wrongdoing. It seems, from the outside, a simple solution, but when you are in a pitched battle for right and wrong sometimes simple isn’t so obvious. Of course, not everyone is going to immediately get on board with this new mindset of yours. Be patient, breathe and look for solutions that have AND in them. Remember they are just a charging 5-year-old and don’t’ know any better. It’s our job to show them a better way.
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