Bridging the Communication Gap

Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law.

Immanuel Kant, German Philosopher

When parties sit down to discuss arbitration or negotiate a deal, several factors need to be examined. The most important factors beyond the details of the deal are whether both parties adequately understand what the other is communicating.

Increasingly,  hammering out solid deals and negotiations has become a Herculean feat in modern times. However, that may not be only due to stubbornness on both sides, but a fundamental gap in the way that parties see the world.  Worldview plays a huge role in the ways in which we communicate and the negotiations we think are fare and balanced.

The condition of man… is a condition of war of everyone against everyone.

Thomas Hobbs, English Philosopher

Perhaps the first step in adequate communications beyond understanding what the other party has said, is the reasoning behind it. Many people go yo the drawing board with a Darwinian outlook, underscored by theory posited by Hobbs.  Thinkers of this Ilk may not even see win-wim outcomes as beneficial or good.

Conversely,  thinkers from different orders may see the world in less black and white terms. In some cultures, ambiguity of intention is fine so along as the outcome fits the target. This may offer more flexibility in deal-making and negotiations; but may but time for more nefarious minds to build a strategy of counter attack.

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win. ~Sun Tzu, Chinese General

Sun Tzu, Chinese General

As the world reorders itself, it is evident that new ways of seeing the world and communicating have begun to develop.  As niche cultural normative begin to take center stage, it will be necessary to not only communicate effectively,  but understand the philosophy of both communications and negotiations among parties.

When an impasse arises, there needs to be more than a mediator with a cool head.  There needs to be a framework developed by negotiators to produce alternatives palpable to involved parties.  Furthermore, major complications arise in negotiations when thinkers from other theoretical backgrounds emerge to help “solve” the dispute. 

Cunning men do not deal with each other. ~Zulu Proverb

Zulu Proverb

Sometimes, as we’ve seen in recent times, such third parties can be more detrimental than helpful.  It is therefore recommended thathelpful mediating parties should be  sourced regionally.  This helps to reduce the dissonance injected by radically different schools of thought. 

For example, disputes in Asia might be best solved with the support of neutral regional actors. Alternately, disputes in Easter Eastern Europe are likely best administrated by functionaries in the former Eastern block. The concept is to bring together thinkers with similar thought traditions that can communicate across language and culture.

Where the Russian flag was raised once, it should never be taken down

Russian Emperor Nicolas I

Communication cannot be forthright in the future without addressing not only the Communications styles, but traditions. It might be noted that zero-sum thinkers will need to be presented with black and white choices that erase ambiguity.  And as other thought and communication traditions advance,  the world will have to modify what it sees as standard.

Without this critical modification,  the world will continually devolve into circular squabbles that do not get to the heart at what each party wants to accomplish.

War is a disaster for both winner and loser alike.

Arab Proverb

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