Negotiation

Rabbit Rule #2: Be Flexible and Adaptable

If you think the rabbit rescued himself because he was the nice guy, you misunderstand the point of this story about human nature. The rabbit was nice and talked in a gentle voice because that is what worked from his position in the soup pot. It makes me feel better to think that he preferred to be nice when he could. But don’t kid yourself. Had the shoe been on the other foot, with the rabbit in the position of strength, he would not have held a tea party to soothe the bear’s and the fox’s hurt feelings. He would have yelled, screamed, kicked, bitten, or done whatever was necessary to rescue himself.

It would seem unnecessary to say that the same things won’t always work twice. Nonetheless, we see examples over and over again of how difficult it is for some people to be flexible. If yelling and screaming prove to be ineffective, as the rabbit found out, many people simply add more yelling and screaming. You can imagine what this would have gotten the rabbit. Others who have tried being “nice” for years cannot give up the habit. If being nice has gotten them abused, misused, and taken advantage of, what do they do? They try being nicer. Well, don’t.
If what you’re doing isn’t working after a reasonable period of time, try something different. Better yet, try to start out doing the right thing.

If your husband is a middle linebacker for a pro football team, don’t agree to arm wrestle for one single item of community property. If your wife deals blackjack in Las Vegas during her summer vacation, don’t agree to play cards to decide who gets the house.

Being flexible means choosing your ground, the place where you have the advantage.

Robin M. Green, Divorce: When It’s the Only Answer (The Ordinary Mortals Guide, Inc., 2005), Chapter 13, pp. 193-194.