Negotiation

Rabbit Rule #1: Your Position Is Never Too Weak for Bargaining

Whenever you feel sorry for yourself and start to give up without even trying to bargain, remember the rabbit. There he was with his hands and feet bound and the water already heating for soup. Had he stopped to ponder the unfairness of life, it would have become even more unfair, from his point of view. Power is relative. There is no such thing as absolute power or absolute weakness.

Ironically, your strengths will usually be your weaknesses and vice versa. This is also true of your spouse. If your spouse has always been the dominant personality in the marriage, controls all of the money, is loved by all of your mutual friends, and is by profession a labor negotiator, then you might consider your position worse than that of Br’er Rabbit.

But consider the power that you might gain by deciding to have your way just once. It might be the surprise of your spouse’s life. It may be difficult for him or her to maintain the nice-guy image when you are making it plain that he or she will not be able to talk you into giving up this time. The nice-guy image is an asset in bargaining since everybody wants the nice guy to win. But, it is also a liability, since, if the behavior is not nice, the image could be lost. If your spouse is a bully, the same rules apply. You must realize that your spouse’s intimidation is of very limited use. Sure, if you continue to let him or her talk with you privately in the kitchen, you will continue to be bullied. But, if you insist that you will talk only in the presence of your lawyer, friends, a tape recorder, or a videotape machine, chances are the bully is going to have some difficulty pulling off the intimidation act, all of which brings us to the second rule.

Robin M. Green, Divorce: When It’s the Only Answer (The Ordinary Mortals Guide, Inc., 2005), Chapter 13, p. 193.