Teaching Negotiations in a Typhoon

By: Jeff Cochran, SNI Master Facilitator.

During the middle two weeks of August, Chip Tames and I were fortunate enough to be in the Philippines teaching and coaching negotiations skills. During our second week there, the rains generated by Typhoon Maring caused wide spread flooding throughout Metro Manila. Quezon City and Makati were the hardest hit. Unfortunately, many of our participants lived in those areas. As a result, a few of the days of training were sparsely attended as some folks were unable to leave their homes on impassable, flooded streets.

My colleagues back in the states, upon hearing the news were concerned and curious how we coped with the flooding. I honestly told them that we coped the same way we do in the Northeast when there is a bad winter storm. The safety of the participants was our highest concern, and we told everyone if they could not make it in safely to stay home, and if they could make it in safely we would see them tomorrow. In fact, it was exactly how we cope with natural disasters everywhere.

People often ask, “How do you teach negotiations in such diverse cultures?” My response always is that wherever you go, people are people and there may be subtle nuances, but the basic tools remain valuable everywhere. The flooding in Metro Manila reminded me of that. Monsoonal Flooding is very different from a Winter Nor’easter that causes a blizzard, but folks respond pretty much the same way. They hunker down, make sure their family is safe and rely on their neighbors to help them out if they get in a real jam. It’s nice to know that regardless of subtle differences as the result of culture, humanity remains basically the same all over.

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