Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Are You Trying To Negotiate With The Devil?

Some people just cannot be reasoned with, they simply will not budge.  The art of compromise is not part of their emotional tool box- so it's either their way or the highway.  When you hit this wall (and we all do at some point with toxic people) the question actually becomes quite simple: is it worth the fight or should you just give in and walk away?  Answering this question, however, is not so simple-- but here is some food for thought:

1. How well do you know your enemy?  If you are going to fight, you better know your opponent's weak points and strengths.  And you need to consider what do they have on you and what are they capable of doing?  Are they willing to borrow, beg and steal to fight to the bitter end?  If so, can you (and those around you) stomach that?

2.  What resources are at your disposal?  Is there even a higher power you can appeal to if the other person won't budge, and what are the transaction costs involved with that process?  A common phrase we use with clients contemplating litigation is that we all have principles worth fighting for-- but can you afford the fight?  Literally, before you go to war you have to have a war chest.

3. Is there nobility in quitting? There is a value to ending a battle, especially for the sake of restoring peace and sanity into your life, particularly when kids are involved.  Battles take a toll on you physically and emotionally, not to mention financially.  So do you really need to prove a point, or can you cut your losses with this toxic person and move on with your dignity intact?

There is a great book by Professor Mnookin "Bargaining with the Devil" that discusses the various factors one should consider in a cost-benefit analysis before launching WWIII, and Bill Eddy's books including "It's All Your Fault"  has wonderful tips for dealing with high conflict personalities, but at the end of the day, no one but you will be able to look deep inside your heart to determine whether you can live with yourself if you put down your sword and forfeit the fight.  Only with age and maturity have I learned the beauty in this simple truth: you are the one being irrational if you expect an irrational person to be reasonable.

Stop trying to negotiating with the devil.  Either fight or walk away, just own the choice in the interest of preserving your own sanity.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.

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