Watching and reading about the current negotiations on the fiscal cliff is reinforcing my belief that everything in life, including politics, centers on communication.
The Washington Post ran an article this week, “Moral values and the fiscal cliff” in which the authors delineated how “Sharing moral commitments helps teams to function cohesively, but it also blinds them to reality.” When each team gets focused on what is sacred, there is less chance for compromise. They authors, Haidt and Movius, recommend the Democrats and Republicans negotiate and describe their progress, in which both sides can tout some moral victories, and then jointly call for shared sacrifice. My favorite quote from the article is, “President Obama and Speaker Boehner should develop shared language to convey to the American people the severity of our problems and the need for all Americans to make some sacrifice.” Shared language. That is at the core. Communication.
Those of us watching our political leaders know that we need to make sacrifices. We would like to see our leaders act like mature adults and communicate effectively, almost as much as we want to avoid this fiscal cliff.
Obama acknowledged this in his November 28th press address, “Lyn Lyon, who's here, from Newport News -- where's Lyn? There she is. She just wants to see some cooperation in Washington. She wrote, “Let’s show the rest of the world that we're adults and, living in a democracy, we can solve our problems by working together.””
NewsNation’s Tamron Hall discussed President Obama’s ‘outside-in’ strategy on fiscal cliff negotiations where he is speaking directly to the American people and asking them to make their opinions known directly to the Republicans. “I am asking congress to listen to the people who sent us here to serve,” said Obama. What is at the core of this strategy? Communication.
Communication scholars Roger Fisher and William Ury define a method of Principled Negotiation with four principles: 1) separate the people from the problem 2) focus on interests, not positions 3) invent options for mutual gain 4) insist on using objective criteria. Four steps for effective communication. To achieve these steps both the Democrats and the Republicans need to switch focus from party politics to economic reality.
ABC News, “Major Setbacks in Fiscal Cliff Negotiations” indicates that has yet to happen. An agreement is not close to being reached and the article details how each side is blaming the other.
We have another month before we reach the cliff and I am sure we will be reading and watching much more on this subject. One thing we can be sure of, it will all center on communication.