As I was sitting at my desk preparing a business presentation for my company, it dawned on me how the world is divided between those who truly negotiate on the POSITIVE aspects of an issue. And those who negotiate on the NEGATIVE.
And how these two tactics apply in politics as well as in business.
For example: As a business person, I will highlight the best parts of what I want to sell or create. I will emphasis the benefits of my service or product. And I will endeavor to make what I have to offer that much more attractive than the product or service of my competitor(s).
In other words, I will bring as many positive aspects to the table as I possibly can. That’s how business works at all levels.
Then there are the unions.
Unions negotiate on the negative. It is always GIVE us more money for less work. GIVE us job security regardless. GIVE us more time off. GIVE, GIVE, GIVE! Always with the threat of or else. The or else generally means strikes or work stoppages including “work to rule”.
You rarely hear the unions speaking in terms of what can we do for you? Or how can we make our services better for the employer? It is always: What can YOU do for US?
There is a stark difference between both positions, mostly because the unions have virtually nothing to give and everything to take. Opposed to business with everything to give.
Of course, there will be union supporters who will be up in arms over this statement, since they believe that employers are there to profit on the labor of workers. And they’re right. But, what’s wrong with that?
I won’t get into the perceived virtues or sins of labor versus management, other than to say that it is the creators of wealth who negotiate on what can I give, opposed to labor, which negotiates on what can I take.
And here is the comparison to politics:
The successful countries and political regions are always negotiating on the positive. How can we add to what you’ve got, so we can get more too. Opposed to the failed state economies which generally want to know how they can get more, regardless to what the other side gets.
If I’m not making myself clear, here are two examples:
Quebec is a HAVE NOT province which depends enormously upon federal largess in several ways.
The first and most obvious, is the largess which comes in the form of EQUALIZATION payments, where Quebec is given money from the federal government, which was collected from Canada’s two HAVE provinces; Alberta and Ontario.
The second and equally transparent federal largess comes from TRANSFER payments, which gives Quebec money with which to pay ceratin services from healthcare to roads. Historically, Quebec has always enjoyed a greater percentage of transfer payments than have the other provinces.
Then there are the less obvious and less glaring “gifts” from Ottawa (Alberta and Ontario), which include outright grants. Interest free loans. Federal offices employing tens of thousands of Quebecers. Special dispensation for Quebec based companies. Federal contracts to Quebec companies for everything from advertising, to servicing Canada’s fleet of F18 Fighter Jets. The list is long.
Without the rest of Canada’s (Alberta and Ontario) deep and generous pockets, Quebec would become far less, than just a HAVE NOT province.
Yet, Quebec is always whining and threatening to get more, more and more!
It was the Quebec Liberal government under the now deceased Premier Robert Bourassa which coined the expression: “The best way to negotiate with Canada, is with a knife to Canada’s throat”.
This is the way a LOSER state deals with a successful state. Negotiate through threats. After-all, what else do they have? Especially if the politicians of the LOSER state never want to admit that they are the lords of nothing, and still keep what they consider to be their dignity.
So, in Quebec’s case, it has been, for as long as I can remember: Give us what we want, or we’re going to separate from Canada. AND IT’S WORKED!
So; as not to risk upsetting the “social peace”, as Quebec’s Premier Bourassa was so fond of saying, Canada gave Quebec everything it wanted, including the right to subjugate Quebec’s English speaking and Ethnic populations.
It is quite incredible how far a NEGATIVE position has taken a HAVE NOT province.
The other example that comes to mind is Palestine, or more correctly, the Palestinian people:
Here is a group of people who have virtually less than nothing, who are demanding everything.
The Palestinians have no natural resources whatsoever. They have no technology to speak of. They have no social infrastructure that is of any consequence. And they have no REAL leadership that isn’t at the end of a TERRORIST Gun.
But look what they have so far managed to achieve with nothing more than threats and negative negotiating. First OSLO in 1993, and now THE ROAD MAP TO PEACE!
GIVE us what we want or we’ll blow up Jewish Israeli children. We’ll kill Jews at bus stops, pizza parlors, restaurants, markets, discotheques, pool rooms, in their bedrooms and anywhere else we can find them.
And it’s worked! Even though the Palestinian people are still suffering with nothing to show for it. IT HAS WORKED!
When one looks at the contrasts between the negotiating tactics of the successful, compared to the negotiating tactics of the LOSERS, it’s easy for me to see the glaring parallel between business groups and political groups.
Israel brings a great deal to the table in what it can give to the Palestinians and to the rest of the Arab world, while the Palestinians and the Arab world only bring threats.
Canada (Alberta and Ontario) brings a great deal to the table in what it can give to Quebec. But Quebec comes to the table, only with what they demand from Canada, with the threat to separate if they don’t get what they want.
As with business and politics, it seems to me, that the people with the least amount to give, have the most amount to demand.
Maybe one day, we’ll wake up and realize that the answer to the LOSERS doesn’t always have to be yes. But that day is probably a long time coming.