Saturday, October 26, 2013

Red Beggar: Negotiation with Kids, Toddlers and Teenagers

Parenting is hard. Who really signs up for the heavy responsibility of managing this human being into adulthood? It comes as a shock to most, I know. Hey, “Parenting” was never on the school curriculum and you cannot rely on the parenting style of your parents (unless they were really, really good).

First things first: your child will only change in response to you and your negotiation style and not because you “tell” them. You have probably already found this out: you cannot “tell” your kids anything! You have to teach. You have to let them know what is you’re objective, show them how to act and define what is not acceptable. So the first thing you probably need to do is: Prepare for Change yourself. Besides being a good Buddhist philosophy it should be self-evident. If it isn’t, please refer to the relevant dharma that suits your view on Life, the Universe and Everything.

Remember the Red Beggar saying “Keep your coins, I WANT CHANGE!” (Credit to Banksy; it is a good slogan).

You may be seeing “Red”. You may be looking for “Assistance”; maybe, begging for it. Imagine a Buddhist beggar. (In Buddhism begging is an honourable tradition and it should remind you that you can only change yourself).

So remember the “Red Beggar”.

Why should you remember “Red Beggar”? Obviously because it is a cunning trick to remember the simple process at the heart of this booklet: R. E. D + B - G.- R.

So this is what R. E. D + B - G.- R. stands for:

These are different type of negotiation style that you can use as a stepped process (with a few notable exceptions which will be discussed later).

They are both positive and negative: The Ying and Yang, the Dove and Hawk, Good-Cop and Bad-Cop of negotiation styles. You’ll probably have to use them all but you can guess which are the preferred styles.

Here is a quick overview to explain the purpose of the strategy. Each Negotiation Style has its own picture and more detailed explanation. But quickly, here are the six styles:

“R = Reason” is the preferred negotiation style. “If you don’t leave now you’ll be late for school” – that’s a perfectly acceptable premise for any parent for a child that knows what school is and the consequences of being late.

“E = Empathy”. Empathy requires understanding and developing that understanding takes time. However giving empathy and understanding about your little monster’s perfectly rational, if uncooperative, response is often essential for you to make any further progress. Why doesn’t he/she want to go to school? Are they sick? Or being bullied?

“D = Distraction”. Distraction negotiation can be as simple as Either-We-Do-This-or-We-Do-That or it can get more complicated… in which case you need skills...

We are now out of the happy zone and into the more complicated space of negotiation; moving from Human-to-Human negotiation to Parent-Child negotiation which is less effective in developing your child’s confidence and independence.

“B = Bribe”. Bribery is quick and often successful. But you are making a DEAL, signing a contract in virtual blood. Bribery works but you have to worry about the invisible small print in the vaporous parchment you’ve created.

“G = Guilt”. Yes, once your child is old enough you can use this dangerous negotiation method. What does this negotiation style mean? It means outlining the negative consequences of their actions. This method works, as dark methods often do. Use with care.

“R = Refer”. This method is negotiation with the threat of punishment.  Frequently cited as the “Just wait until your father gets home!” method. This method style has huge potential for short-, mid- and long term failure so while is often used in just about every supermarket in the land its use should be reduced to virtually zero. Especially when you are the one being judged.

More details in the book available here