Sunday, October 3, 2010

Propaganda and negotiation

I am now teaching at a university. One of the classes I teach is communication ethics. It's a broad subject, and during my lectures I make use of the knowledge I have about a lot of little things. Journalism, politics, negotiations, religious philosophy . . .

The other day, we were discussing situational ethics as they relate to communication. We were discussing the political communication in the US that has developed recently. That is to say - the sharp partisan rhetoric that has dominated discussion. I referred back to a class that I had on negotiations years ago. That for negotiations to succeed, both parties must view the other as a partner. We must make it our primary objective that the bargaining partner also be satisfied with the negotiations. If we do not, we will be trapped in zero-sum adversarial negotiations.

One aspect of this approach is that rhetoric is important. Feelings are important. If I am insulting you, I am not creating an environment conducive to negotiation.

So, this is what we have in the United States. Hateful rhetoric that makes negotiation nearly impossible. Why is this being used? Because the people propagating it have no real interest in negotiation. How can we respond to such rhetoric?

Personally, I hope to God that the better aspect of people will eventually reject hatred and those who sow hatred will fail in their objectives. But I am really not sure if this will happen before many people are hurt.

1 comment:

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