The Negotiator Magazine

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Once seated, the disadvantaged often lack the skills and the experience of others at the table. Additionally, they may find themselves co-opted and compromised, serving as tokens to silence their constituencies or even as future scapegoats for agreements reached at the table. Even more dangerously, these individuals also may discover that they "do not know when, how or why to leave the table" (p.28).

The disadvantaged learn quickly that those who dare to point out that the table is uneven risk a steep price for their acknowledging its deficiencies and thereby raising a challenge to the established order itself. The penalties for such infractions may well be exacted in interpersonal violence on those who break the unstated rule of the engagement. Therefore, out of fear, weaker parties generally choose to avoid conflict and adapt or compromise even their own interests.

Fearing retaliation for challenging the power elite, lacking in skills, the disadvantaged often turn to deceit as a tool in negotiations. "For many members of oppressed groups," the author states, "often there is a deep conviction that is their only choice" (p. 101).

Ms. Kritek examines a variety of deceits used in negotiations. They are what she terms the "masques" of the manipulator. She identifies ten principal types of manipulative behavior in detail and even acknowledges an acquaintance and fondness for some of her candidates.

It will be the unusual reader who finds them all unknown strangers. She explores in depth such tactics as praise and flattery, lying, deliberate stupidity, attacking, obeisance and their relatives. It is a sad list of behaviors that only can lead to failure in resolving true conflicts. What else can be done by the powerless?

Far, far more is the authorís answer. There is a better and productive way to address conflict negotiations and to make a true difference in the process.

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