Disruption Transforms Enemies to Allies

Has President Trump’s disruptive style created new allies in Congress?

In a Washington Post article about the spending bill, Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is purported to have said “Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate were closer together than Republicans to Donald Trump.”

>While Schumer’s statement can be viewed as gloating, it points to an often-overlooked fact in problem-solving and negotiations…disparate views dissolve in light of a common enemy.

Disparate views

Disagreements are not only inevitable, they’re healthy…as long as they don’t become divisive.  It’s only when the parties involved dig in their heels and refuse to consider alternatives that problems escalate or negotiations come to a grinding halt.  We’ve seen both in the legislative branches of our government for a decade or more.

Breaking the cycle

Until I read the article referenced above, I had forgotten that the quickest way out of these stalemates is the creation of a common enemy.  President Trump’s disruptive, unpredictable style seems to have created that common enemy…or at least capitalized on the divide within the Republican party enough to get some bipartisan movement.

Lesson for us

When you’re at odds with others on how to solve a problem or stalled in your negotiations, whether with you kids, spouse or in business, look for something that’s a common threat to all of you…something that will prevent each of you from getting what you want.  Then focus on eliminating that threat.

The spirit of cooperation that ensues will open the minds of all to new possibilities that will help resolve the problem or successfully conclude the negotiation.

For our kids

How do we teach our kids this lesson?  When they’re faced with problems with “no apparent” solutions, ask them:

  1. What it is they want to happen?
  2. What the other party wants?
  3. Why, if they were in the other party’s shoes, would they want what they want?  You may have to give your child some time to think about this question.  The answer may not be obvious.
  4. What, besides their opposing positions, stands in the way of each of them getting what they want?
  5. How they can use these newly-identified obstacles to create a common enemy that both they and the other party can target?

Then let them know that as they shift the discussion from their opposing positions to targeting the common enemy, they’ll see a spirit of cooperation develop that will, combined with an understanding of the other party’s needs (number 3 above), open the door to a whole new set of possible solutions.

As they learn this lesson, they’ll be less likely to exacerbate a problem or stall a negotiation.  Instead they’ll foster a spirit of cooperation and collaboration that will garner tremendous influence, greater confidence and attract new opportunities.  That’s a lot of benefit from a simple lesson on how to transform enemies to allies.

Don’t forget to check out this week’s weekly tip and exercise at TeachingConfidence.com.

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