Almost all of the information I share is either in the form of a rule “What to do in a situation” or a guideline “One way to create this outcome is…”. In my daily life I will hear my pet peeve gnashing it’s teeth once in a while over a quasi-negotiating “position”. So before I continue with my inspired information on this topic, I’ll simply iterate the rule “Whenever a Negotiating Complement (anyone you deal with in any communication event) takes a “victim” position, there is only one response and that is to annihilate THAT position by any means you have available.” Just having a rule like that probably makes the Politically Correct crowd scream and pull their hair out, delete my website from their favorites list, etc. It is not a smooth, kind thing to write and perhaps a few of you might want to understand the dynamics a little more before you rage at The Negotiator!
First my rule does not mean I don’t believe their are victims. I do. I believe that all true victims are dead. I believe that there are also victims of the moment or a situation. For example, a man enters into an intersection at the green light and some drunken crazy runs the perpendicular red light smashing into the man’s side, breaking his arm in 4 places. The man who had the green light WAS a victim in this context of the man who ran the red light and did serious bodily injury. In situations like that seldom does the drunken man get back in his car, rev up the engines, take another swig and run the red light AGAIN hitting the same man in a similar fashion breaking even more bones. If the man with the broken arm is able to receive treatment in time to save his life then in the moment help arrives to make that future a reality he is no longer a victim but a survivor. He survived that wreck. The car doesn’t keep hitting him or rebreaking his arm. I do not debate that there may be emotional and other mental harm done to the survivor, however he still has the opportunity to recover and survive the accident.
People who don’t survive car wrecks are victims. In most instances being a dead victim doesn’t hold much weight in the negotiations of the living.
The essence of a Negotiation is the transaction of resources. The obstacle that a “victim” position creates is two fold. First, one of the most sacred Negotiator’s rules is “Never play someone elses game” – a victim position is always designed to get you to play the victim’s game exclusively. 2nd, the “victim” position is a one way street so it’s very nature annihilates the transaction of resources and makes the transference of resources one sided – that my friends is NOT a good negotiation. As self-righteous as it may sound, annihilating a victim position actually does the victim a favour. If you succeed in collapsing the victim position and the person still has breath to take ANY OTHER POSITION whatever that position will be will automatically be more resourceful than being a faux victim – unless they die.
The most powerful tool in The Negotiator’s Toolbox is asking resourceful questions. One aspect of asking resourceful questions is often referred to as challenging the information. This is the form of a question which intends to tear down or at least closely examine any position presented by the Negotiating Complement. In the instance of a victim it is purely to tear down their position and perhaps offer them ANY OTHER position to take for the sake of allowing the Negotiation to be a Transaction and not some one-sided pity party. The essence of a great negotiation is communicating and closing on accountability. Think of this when you shape your questions for a victim position.
How much longer will the conditions exist to make you a victim? Can you hang on to being this kind of victim and recover from whatever got you here at the same time? Have you ever considered the benefits of moving on, getting on with your life? If I can show you how you actually loose more and gain less by maintaining your victim stance would you consider an alternative? Are there people who’ve had it worse than you that made remarkable lives for themselves? Do you still think they are victims? Do you know the difference between a victim and a survivor?
The list of creative challenge the information type questions on de-framing a victim position are endless.
Next time you are in ear-shot of someone expressing victim-speak listen to them closely and ask yourlself the following questions:
1) What resource do they gain by maintaining The Victim Stance?
2) What is the typical response to their “victim” stance?
3) How often do their negotiating complements move away from them?
4) Is there a position more suited for their outcomes other than victim?
So remember – you are almost always only a victim very briefly and after that you are either surviving the context that once made you a victim or you are dead.
If you wish to ask me a question or two about this post or any other just write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.