Trust: An Essential Aspect of a Negotiation

No matter the conflict venue every instance of human interaction requires a basis of trust upon which commitments can be built. Conflict resolution, alternate dispute resolution, negotiations, mediation, settlement discussions, debt restructuring, salary and performance reviews are all examples of human interaction. Whenever our species interacts, the discussions are colored by the natural inclination of each person involved to trust or distrust the others.

Those who establish credibility and an honorable reputation develop, over time, a personal power advantage at any negotiating table.

The need to trust each other is essential for groups of people to function well together. This grouping can be in the form of friends, family, business, church, communities, governments, and even at the global level in forums such as NATO or the United Nations. If the trust of the members is tested the ability of the group to function is challenged. The more diverse the group the greater the level of mistrust and the harder it is to get the group to function together.

As an example, we are seeing trust erode as the Administration pursues seemingly unpopular programs and uses questionable means to secure the votes necessary to get them passed.

The American people are watching brokered deals, weekend debates, and late night votes to get the current version of the health care bill passed through the senate. One must ask why, if the bill is a good bill, such antics are required.

The culture of backroom negotiations and payoffs is not the hope and change promised by this Administration. They are the same old political practices common to both political parties that the American people have come to distrust.

This distrust, if left unchecked, will grow into resentment and ultimately a loss of support for those in government. If that occurs, a populist change to restore confidence and trust becomes a possibility and may empower third party movements to gain tangible footing.