Psychological Self-Help

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the best combination of changes. That is why brainstorming is so
Perhaps the most serious pitfall is failing to agree about how to
make decisions. If this is left unclear, naturally people will start using
all the power they have to get their way, including threats, power,
withdrawal, crying, personal attacks, amassing personal support from
friends, saying "Take it or leave it," and so on. This is destructive. In
"win-win," the two people must agree on the basis for deciding, e.g.
the proposed change is fair, it hurts no one else, it is reasonable, it is
likely to produce the desired outcome (meet our "interests"), etc. Use
reason, not emotions (such as a determination to get one's way).
Thus, decisions are based on principles of justice and logic, and on
rational expectations about effectiveness, if that is what both parties
agree on. 
Occasionally, you may misjudge the type of person you are dealing
with, e.g. you may assume the opponent is a congenial, dependable
person willing to do "win-win" negotiation but find out in the final
stages that he/she is really a determined, hostile barracuda. That is a
risk. However, win-win negotiating is based on the assumption that
most people will see the wisdom of being fair and seeking an optimal
solution for both sides. It certainly would be a mistake to assume that
every adversary will be inconsiderate, unyielding, and hostile.
Sometimes, though, tough and even mean negotiations can't be
Max Bazerman (June, 1986) describes five common mistakes
while trying to resolve more competitive negotiations: (1) as
mentioned before, believing the other person must lose for you to win.
(2) Discovering too late that more information was needed, e.g.
"Gosh, I should have had the valves checked before I bought the car."
(3) Making extreme demands, investing too much in getting your way,
and, thus, becoming reluctant to back down (and, in the end, not
getting the promotion or the improved relationship). It should be a
warning sign to you when you start to use anger or try to make your
opponent look bad or weak. (4) There is a consistent human tendency
to believe that we are right and are being reasonable. Much more
often than we realize, other people disagree with what we think is fair.
Therefore, get an unbiased outside opinion. Negotiators, who are
realistic and willing to see other views of justice, are more successful
compromisers. (5) If you are thinking mostly in terms of what you
could lose, you are likely to hold out for more--and lose everything.
For some reason, most people will take a sure small gain over a risky
greater gain but not a sure small loss over a possible larger loss. We
hate to lose, even by a little. The wise negotiator facing big losses may
quickly "cut his/her losses." However, when you have accepted a small
loss, emphasize to your opponent what he/she has to gain by your
Lastly, watch out for deceptive, mean, and selfish techniques (see
Table 13.1). Not all the strategies in the Table are bad (indeed, some
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