Vanity Variables Veil Victim


A peacock preens to attract a mate. A Venus-Fly Trap does the same to attract its dinner. It is important to know the motive of vanity.

Vanity and/or ego can be a destructive force in any dispute. A negotiator typically will try to navigate around personality issues to get to a point where the parties can reach an agreement.

Negotiators on occasion have to address personality issues to overcome an obstacle. Confronting vanity issues can be dangerous. One way to broach the issue is it to address the other person's behavior head on to change the behavior. This tactic runs the risk of embarrassing or insulting the other person and losing momentum. Another approach is to actually use the personality flaw to your advantage. By playing up to the other person's over-stated self-image you may be able to get him to become careless and make mistakes beneficial to you. This course of action, however, places at risk your assumed role as the small group leader or may lower your credibility in the eyes of the other person.

In a mediation, the personality issues are more important ion reaching a resolution between the parties. A mediator needs to identify personal, emotional issues early in the process and address them. If they are based on the treatment of one party by another, resolution will likely be required to make any progress on the more pragmatic issues. If they are personality based, the mediator may actually coach the other party to accept or overlook the behavior to get to resolution.

Personality plays a strong role in settlement situations. It needs to be managed to keep those involved in the settlement focused on reaching an accord.



In the wild beads, trinkets, hats, colorful scarves, and extra equipment can all be inexpensive commodities to be traded for items of great value; like your life.

One error a mediator or negotiator can make is to focus too narrowly on the basic commodities of a dispute. To do so ignores other factors that potentially hold the key to resolution even though they appear to be ancillary issues.

The "whole pie" concept of negotiations is the concept of expanding the focus of discussion to include every possible issue that may have impact on the settlement. When beginning to negotiate time should be spent determining all factors that may have an impact on the core issue. Doing this changes the value of the core issue by diluting it with lesser but valuable issues. Also, the ancillary issues, if they can be resolved, pave the way for the parties to psychologically be come comfortable with broaching the final agreement.

When preparing for an upcoming settlement conference or negotiating session take the time to identify all of the assets or commodities you may have available to put on the table. It may be that some of these assets are of minimal value to you but are mighty valued by the other person. Knowing what you have and their intrinsic value to you allows you to negotiate their highest return. Making good deals on the ancillary issues may allow you to tender more to resolve the core issue by averaging the aggregate cost.

Assets and commodities are not only tangible items of worth but also include such intangible things as:

-An apology.

-Respect for the other person.

-Acknowledgement that the other person was right about something.

-A hug in a personal situation.

-A simple 'thank you'.

-A helping hand to do something unrelated to the issue at hand.

-An endorsement of the other person to a third party.

-Temporary use of something you have when you aren't going to be using it.

Expanding the arena of negotiations allows you to add issues that may have a low intrinsic worth to you. This can serve to mitigate the actual cost of the acquiring the primary objective making an otherwise untenable agreement viable.



The veiled chameleon changes its skin colors to hide until it can aggressively attack its prey. Man is capable of changing his more than his dress. He can routinely change his demeanor, word, position, friends, enemies, attitude, memory, loyalties and much more putting the poor Chamaeleo Calyptratus to shame!

Over time man has evolved into a species capable of lying to gain an advantage. This trait is a challenge to any negotiator or mediator trying to resolve a dispute.

There are ways to defend against someone who may or may not be able to always speak honestly:

-Gather the facts before any meeting.

-Research reasonable variances in what you know.

-During a settlement discussion, validate and reinforce what the other person says through follow up questioning.

-Seek third party affirmation of supposed facts.

-Make notes of conversations and refer back to them in future discussions to verify consistencies and inconsistencies.

It is one thing to lie, another to be veiled, reserved, or circumspect. We are a gregarious species. Silence is typically troubling and someone will always try to fill it. We are rewarded in school for being willing to answer questions and speak out. In negotiations this is often a bad decision.

Silence is a great way to test the confidence and conviction of the other person. Instead of jumping in to fill a lull in the conversation, sit back and wait. Let the silence become painful. Eventually someone will break. Listen carefully to what is being said.

Indicators to comments made after a prolonged silence:

-If he is asking if you understood what was just said, the other person is trying to verify that he spoke clearly and that you don't have any questions. Again, an indication that you are dealing with someone well versed in negotiating. He may also be concerned that you are asleep!

-If he is asking if you need anything else to respond, the other person is trying to verify that he has addressed all of the issues. This may be signally that there are ancillary concessions available.

-If the comment is related to the amount tendered, it may be indicating concern on the part of the other person that his offer was too low or too high. This signals more concessions may be available.

-If the comment is related to the time in which you expect to respond, it may be indicating concern on the part of the other person about a deadline he is facing. This signals more concessions may be available for a prompt response or that his power base may erode if you delay.

-If the comment is about something unrelated to the issues, you are likely negotiating against an experienced negotiator who is simply trying to re-engage you.

Listening carefully following a silence is an important discipline for a mediator, negotiator, parent or other person trying to resolve a dispute. The ability to sit quietly and wait for a reaction is a proven tactic. But without listening afterwards, the potential value of the tactic is often lost.



Animals are victims when man kills them. Typically they are not given a fighting chance against man's technical superiority. Man can become a predator's victim when in an unknown circumstance or ill prepared.

A victim is one who is taken advantage of or harmed by another. Someone can be harmed or made to suffer from an act, statement, circumstance, or condition. A person suffers injury or loss when tricked or swindled. You can be the victim of a lie, a slur or even a casual remark.

The common thread is that a victim has something bad happen to them and we are all victims at one time or another.

Negotiators do not need to be victims if they are prepared. To be a victim intimates that you have been exposed to an unknown force or condition. Negotiators are forewarned of the ensuing conflict, they have the opportunity to prepare, and they choose when and how to enter the combat zone. If anything, they fall victim to circumstances they allow to come about.

Don't be a victim. Stay in control by properly preparing, properly communicating and knowing what you want to achieve. If you fail, do not let it be a result of the other person being able to take advantage of you.


Explore the Dictionary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z