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Negotiating, Changing One’s Mind, and Following Through: A Biblical Perspective.

September 27, 2014

I was inspired today —  to write about negotiating, changing one’s mind and following through — by the biblical story of Hannah (1 Samuel 1:1 – 2:10) which is one of the special readings for Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year).

In the story, as you might recall, Hannah is barren and desperately wants a child. At the Tabernacle at Shiloh, she pleads with the Almighty to bless her with a son; Eli the High Priest hears her prayer and blesses her. Later, a child (Samuel) is born to Hannah, and, after Samuel is weaned, she entrusts Samuel to Eli that the child should serve G-d during his lifetime.

Or something like that….

So, what does a mediator see in this story?

Well, how about this:

Hannah has an unrealized need/interest/goal – that of having a child. 1 Samuel 1:2-8

In the story, her situation is not of her own doing (“for the Lord had shut up her womb”). 1 Samuel 1:6. See, http://www.chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/15830/jewish/Chapter-1.htm#v=1

She would like to change the situation so she enters into a negotiation with G-d: If You will give me a child, I will devote him to a lifetime of service. 1 Samuel 1:11.

The Almighty understands Hannah, considers the proposal, changes His mind (from barren to fertile for Hannah), and, through His representative, Eli, accepts. 1 Samuel 1:17.

The deal is made and Hannah goes away satisfied. 1 Samuel 1:18.

Later, Samuel is born, and after he is weaned, Hannah fulfills her part of the bargain, delivering Samuel to Eli to serve the Lord. 1 Samuel 1:27-28.

Ultimately, the deal is done, the needs and interests of the Parties have been met, and all is well. 1 Samuel 2:1.

What can we learn from this that is applicable to mediation?

Well, how about this:

Unspoken, unrealized needs and interests make people unhappy.

Sometimes, something can be done about the situation through negotiation.

When one side explains, the other side can understand, and people can change their minds.

When agreement is reached, people can be satisfied.

And, when the deal has been made to everyone’s satisfaction, there is a much better chance that people will do what they promised to do.

Wishing you a Good and Sweet New Year and satisfactory negotiations and outcomes.

***

David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California who sometimes learns from traditional teachings. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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