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They Have No Idea How To Negotiate

How come Obama and Boehner don't know how to collaborate?

Come on -- be reasonable!
News item: "Facing a looming deadline to avoid the fiscal cliff, President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner met Thursday for their first face-to-face talk in four days."

After four days, they were actually together in that room for less than an hour, with no protocol or method for proceeding in their negotiations.  A pretty haphazard way to handle the future of the nation, don't you think?

Of course, the aftermaths of these meetings follow a regular pattern -- the President and Speaker brag "lines of communication remain open," then each claims that the other is completely unprepared to make a reasonable offer, to budge from their position, and to compromise.

News Item:  Boehner says, "Here we are in the eleventh hour and it's clear the president is just not serious about cutting spending."  While the President responds: "My sense is, it's less an issue of trust; I think that this has more to do with politics. You know, I think the idea of not raising taxes has become sort of a religion for a lot of members of the Republican Party."

Sound like the worst divorce, labor-management, peace negotiation ever?  And it's taking place in an era where EVERYONE understands the importance of negotiating, professional mediators abound, and REAMS of documents and research exist about tactics for achieving accord.

So, where is psychology in all of this?  What about all the incredible advances in cognitive psychology? (Actually, while I was preparing this post, I noticed that there is no topic heading for "negotiation," "mediation," "collaboration," bargaining," "compromise," "conflict" or "conflict resolution.")

Perhaps in our growing allegiance to neuroscience, electrodes should be attached to the President's and the Speaker's brains!  Then what?  Because it's remarkable that after centuries, millennia of human beings bargaining over one thing and another, there is no procedure in place, no method agreed upon, no optimal technique for directing the President's and Speaker's interactions affecting an agreement that everyone knows is critical for the future of the nation.

Or maybe it's just that powerful political figures don't think psychology is worth a damn.

Amazing, huh?  We're no further advanced than if two Neanderthals met in a primordial jungle and started banging each other over the head as they traded animal hides.

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The Power of Collaboration