Wolves in a pack work together, hunt together, and sleep together. As a pack, unified in their objective, they are stronger, safer and more secure. Similarly, a well-honed sports team trains and learns how to work as a team to become a competitive force. The teammates, like the wolf pack, have forged a common vision. It is this unified vision that I refer to as a Collective Dream.
Everyone starts a negotiation with an aspiration or expectation of the outcome even if that outcome expected is, under the particular circumstances, not ideal. Because a negotiated settlement requires both parties to reach an agreement and then adhere to it, the eventual accord must become a shared goal or objective. As with the wolf pack or sports team analogy, this becomes the negotiators’ Collective Dream.
Collective Dreaming is common. Managers routinely use the approach to get employees with diverse personal agendas to work together. Employees in a restaurant, at a factory, or at your local supermarket routinely subjugate their desire to be elsewhere for the mission at hand. By working together they are able to get their jobs done, collect their pay checks and perhaps earn a bonus. It serves them to help each other accomplish their team objectives, their Collective Dream.
Even in conflict, participants in a negotiation must work together. The natural instinct is to seek to satisfy their own wants and needs. To be more than barterers, the participants need to be drawn into a Collective Dream as a way to satisfy their personal objectives.
In Seven Secrets to WINNING Without Losing a Friend, I discuss the importance of understanding the merits of Collective Dreaming as a means to forge a lasting settlement agreement at home, in school, or at the workplace, generally with anyone with whom you interact.