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Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Getting to Some Good Anecdotes

Of late I've been reading bits of the negotiating book Getting to Yes. Though it's rather disappointingly uninsightful thus far, there have been a few nice anecdotes sprinkled about, one of which I'm typing in below and calling my midday blog post:

In Persian, the word "compromise" apparently lacks the positive meaning it has in English of "a midway point both sides can live with," but has only a negative meaning as in "our integrity was compromised." Similarly, the word "mediator" in Persian suggests "meddler," someone who is bargin in uninvited. In early 1980 UN Secrertary General Waldheim flew to Iran to seek the release of American hostages. His efforts were seriously set back when Iranian national radio and television broadcast in Persian a remark he reportedly made on his arrival in Tehran: "I have come as a mediator to work out a compromise." Within an hour of the broadcast, his car was being stoned by angry Iranians.

That's from pages 33-34 of Fisher, Ury and Patton. It sounds to me like rather than brushing up on his negotiation skills, the Secretary General just needed a batter translator, but it's a good story nonetheless.

Completely unrelated but brief: why would I want to donate to Billionaires for Bush if they are just going to spend the money I give on producing another hip-hop video?