Fear – An Obstacle in Negotiation

Sitting down at a bargaining table seems like risky business when fear infiltrates the process. In their book The Divorce Decisions Workbook: A Planning and Action Guide, Marjorie L. Engel and Diana D. Gould identify fear as “perhaps the greatest sin of all.”

Engel and Gould catalogue “six deadly obstacles to negotiation,” including:

  • greed, which makes “any reasonable financial negotiation impossible”;
  • anger, which wastes “time and energy”;
  • lust, which “fires up old memories that might get in the way”;
  • jealousy, which goes nowhere (it’s not your relationship anymore); and
  • pride, which “causes stalemates.”

But fear, they say, “can be the worst enemy of good negotiation: fear of rejection and loss of position, property, or place in the community. There are also the fears of loneliness and of having to start all over again; of personal and financial hardship; and of not being able to handle all that is ahead. The more dependent you have been upon your spouse – financially, personally, or emotionally – the deeper the roots of fear. The fear of negotiating with a spouse who is more powerful, more prestigious, or more “important” than you creates problems, particularly if the spouse is well-connected or has a prominent family.”

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