“Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; so be cunning as snakes and yet innocent as doves”. (Matthew 10:16). What did Jesus mean when He gave His 12 disciples this instruction when going out into the world? A serpent is crafty, with keen eyesight and is quick to learn. A dove is innocent, meek and gentle. It’s a balancing act. Lose this balance, and we will be devoured out there. There has been a lot of controversy recently about the nuclear agreement the U.S. reached with Iran. Most of it concerns the concessions US negotiators made. Were the words of Jesus relevant for the US negotiating team? Were we harmless as a dove, just not as cunning as a serpent? Some think so but each of us has to judge for him/her self. How would you have handled that negotiation – or one in your own business or interpersonal affairs? To make a concession gracefully, we must be well prepared, with a list of all the concessions we could make: perhaps a series of small concessions on large issues as well as concessions which don’t sacrifice our own priorities and requirements. A solid list of concessions prevents us from feeling pressurized when making them, as well as prevents us from making concessions that do not appear on our list.
How do we make a concession during the actual negotiation? A few guidelines from Management 101:
• Make many small ones rather than a few large ones.
• Get a concession back for every one we give.
• Trade concessions carefully. Give a small one to get a large one back.
• Don’t rush to make concessions.
Once offered, they are difficult to withdraw. Concessions have great value in breaking impasses as well as boosting the ego of the other party. Making a concession helps keep a discussion going and reopens negotiations on sticky issues. In terms of ego, people like to win. A well-worded concession gives just that impression. Do we stand to learn anything from a recent negotiation we had? How about the outcome of the agreement with Iran?
The words of Jesus are as relevant today as ever. As we contemplate potential outcomes of our actions we may find that we were neither innocent nor cunning. Simple obedience to Christ prevents much grief down the road. It is cunning to be prepared. The other side may be even better prepared. They’ll be boasting and we’ll be justifying.
Jude Hodges, Grand Knight-[email protected]outh.net
Joe Cox, Membership Director-[email protected]