The Cringey Superpower Women Aren’t Using (And How to get your caped groove on – read more here)!
The Cringey Superpower Women Aren’t Using (And How to get your caped groove on – read more here)!
Wonder how shoe fashion and the Barbie movie serve as vessels to comment on the caregiver economy, the labor force, gender pay gap, and women in negotiation? Read my article here.
On Monday September 12, 2022, I posted the following on LinkedIn. 2 days later, it was removed by LinkedIn and I received a warning that it violated community standards (with no explanation of what the violation was. Mind you, my post didn’t even mention some of the more extreme behaviors: the written group rape threat against me; the corporate malfeasance; the widespread libel; the guy who put up a windshield sized banner of himself naked in the bathtub; emails saying I was like “Mom in the room making sure everyone plays nice” for simply attending meetings to inform myself of corporate operations; the fact that invoices, ballots and surveys were sent only to male account-holders and not the women; and so much more). So, I posted this image of LinkedIn’s reprimand of me, which generated quite a bit of traffic and requests by people to see the content of the original post. Here is that content of the original post:
What was it Bruce Banner said? “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry . . .”
They labeled me a Disruptor. Well, WATCH ME LEAN INTO THAT 🦸🏻♀️
The year was 2021. I’d been practically begged to be President/CEO of a very male dominated sports organization (picture the last bastion of White male privilege in your mind’s eye – yep, that’s the place!) and I ended up being formally reprimanded by a secretly assembled conduct committee for . . .
(really, prepare to react with shock & dismay at my atrocious behavior) . . .
once (allegedly) dropping the F-bomb in a board meeting. (click here to watch scene. 2 minutes to watch. “The” moment is about a minute and 5 seconds in)
And here’s what definitely NEVER happened at that place by the men with no repercussions:
✓dropping F-bombs in meetings every 6 minutes or so (“just locker room talk”)
✓drinking so excessively that they whipped “it” out and urinated on the wall (“boys will be boys,” 🤷🏻♀️)
✓inebriation to the point of passing out in the parking lot (“hey, it happens!”)
✓breaking into a fight and punching a hole in a manager’s wall (no comment)
✓arrested and jailed overnight for public drunk & disorderly conduct and then boasting vocally about it within the organization (he’s still on the board. no reprimand. Same dude as naked in the bathtub banner referenced above)
✓referencing “going home and getting my gun” if the women didn’t quit being so “entitled” with their demands of equitable treatment (also still on the board!)
✓plying a 17-year old female employee with tequila at a men’s only event
✓(I’ll need to do this in installments because the list of things definitely an invention of my overactive imagination by others in leadership exceeds the character limit)
But ONE woman allegedly drops ONE F-bomb in ONE meeting and it’s the end of civilization as we know it. AND THEN THEY OUSTED ME.
(Is this the “whole story?” Um . . . not even close, sports fans!)
Yes. It’s true. If you’ve been wondering who’s responsible for the degradation of humanity: it’s ME! 👿
I must have deserved it, right? (And do you wonder what caused me to (allegedly) drop said F-bomb . . .?)
Can I get a “Oh HELL NO, Lucia!” in the comments? (It really deserves an F-bomb, but I wouldn’t want you to be reprimanded by LinkedIn)
Zero #allyship. Bullying wasn’t just tolerated; it was encouraged.
NOW FOR THE PUNCHLINE: Without their ousting me, I wouldn’t now have my role with UN Women; wouldn’t have started my podcast; wouldn’t have written my SEXY, SPLASHY, SMART un-put-downable Robert Cialdini-endorsed / NPR interviewed book about to release (see chapter 15: Negotiating with Bullies).
Sneak peek here: https://lnkd.in/ghcQQiP2
They thought I wouldn’t survive the storm? I AM THE STORM, FELLAS!
They really should have played nicer (see chapters 2 and 15). 😠
That letter of reprimand is a badge of honor. If you’re someone to help display it on a billboard on the CA-101 freeway, DM me.
🎤drop. Before I (allegedly) drop another F-bomb . . .
Tammy Kim of The New Yorker described it as “potentially one of the biggest labor victories since the 1930’s.” She was talking about the historic JFK8 Amazon workers vote to unionize on April 1st of this year, 2022.
First a quick note to say that this is neither an indictment of Amazon as a company nor an endorsement of unions in general. But as an attorney who specialized in labor and employment law and a negotiation expert, I can hardly resist commenting on and analyzing a historic labor negotiation that has unfolded before our very eyes – the first for Amazon outside of Europe, and one that is totally independent / unaffiliated with a national union.
Chris Smalls, former rapper and Amazon warehouse worker, was the trailblazer. How did he do it going up against the country’s second largest employer? A company that spent a budget of $4.3 million on its ant-union consultants last year compared to the JFK8 warehouse budget of $120,000; and after an effort to unionize the Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama failed just last year? And not just in Bessemer. Since the nineteen-nineties, several well-established unions have tried and failed to organize at Amazon: the Communications Workers of America, the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
And what does a historic, national, labor event like this have to do with you and everyday negotiation (setting aside the obvious for a moment, which is an assumption that many of us avail ourselves of Amazon shopping and quick fulfillment of orders)?
Well, let’s examine a few elements of how Mr. Smalls accomplished something so monumental – using strategies that we have already discussed in previous blogs:
First, for our podcast listeners (Pactum Factum: The Superpower Of Everyday Negotiation), recall the chocolate negotiations from Episode 2 and round 3: asymmetry. In the JFK8 Amazon union drive, we have classic asymmetry in power, in precedent, and financial resources.
So, Smalls started with FRIENDS. He and a few other co-workers had been fired from the JFK8 fulfillment center on Staten Island after the first Covid breakout, allegedly due to failure to observe social distancing rules. By partnering with a good friends who were similarly situated to Smalls (having been terminated or disciplined by Amazon), Smalls may have started small, but he started smart by finding allies. Namely: Derrick Palmer, Jordan Flowers, and Gerald Bryson.
Second, I direct you to Episode 3 and my admonition to never underestimate anyone. Amazon’s chief counsel made the mistake of describing Mr. Smalls as “not smart, or articulate,” in an email mistakenly sent to more than 1,000 people. This backfired big time and contributed to Smalls rising to be the very “face” of the organizing effort.
Third, Smalls made it easy on people. He went to them. He and his cohorts met workers at bus stops, the ferry stop and outside the warehouse
Fourth (and this really should be first, also harkening back to Episode 2 and previous blogs): rapport, rapport, rapport! He started with small gatherings, bonfires, brought homemade baked Ziti (that’s a type of pasta). Sidenote: the breaking of bread is actually incredibly important in negotiation because it generates group oxytocin, which is the bonding hormone.
5th: empathy and relationships. Also in Episode 2, we discussed analyzing which of the Richard Shell categories of negotiation yours falls into. This one was heavy in the relationship category. Smalls and fellow organizers worked from within the organization. One of the main reasons the Bessemer effort failed is because it was an effort from the outside by a large labor union. The workers felt like the union didn’t know or understand them. Smalls focused on bonding and relationships.
6th: LISTENING (Episode 7 and Episode 8). Frustrated warehouse workers were worried about safety, rising infection rates of Covid, and other working conditions including bathroom breaks. They felt that the company ignored their concerns. Smalls and his team listened to them as well as reasons why some workers didn’t trust unions from a previous job, which earned them trust and validity for the cause.
7th: they PLANNED. They analyzed the parties / the players. They set up a GoFundMe campaign; visited the Bessemer warehouse to learn from the 2021 union drive; interviewed other previous organizers; examined past practice and how to challenge standards and norms that Amazon had utilized as its past playbook. They even leveraged third parties as a voice of authority and validity: that is, A coalition of New York City officials and residents who chased out Amazon in 2019, when the company tried to install a secondary headquarters in Queens and avail itself of more than three billion dollars in public subsidies; and in 2021, the state’s attorney general lawsuit against Amazon over health and safety violations. Contrast this to Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville’s expressing his distaste for the Bessemer union.
They set high, specific, justifiable goals (also Episode 3): for example, the labor board requires 30% of the eligible workforce to sign cards to authorize a union, and they set a goal of 40%.
Organizers put in the TIME to research and analyze INTERESTS (again, Episode 3): they made thousands of phone calls. Immigrant members of the organizing effort used WhatsApp to garner support in French, Arabic, and Spanish.
And then, they initially failed. The labor board rejected the initial application as failing to demonstrate sufficient signatures – due to payroll data submitted by Amazon that called into question the validity of some of the signatures that had signed cards.
So they continued building rapport and making it easy for workers to get informed and join the movement: with TikTok videos, s’mores and get-togethers complete with Marvin Gaye music. And more empathy (never gets old!) – including setting up a funding campaign for a fired Amazon worker who became homeless.
They also lawyered up, joining with an attorney who represented the organizers free of charge.
The result was no slam dunk. Many Amazon workers were satisfied with Amazon, grateful for the hourly wage and the benefits, fine with the status quo or suspicious of unions and/or not wanting to pay union dues. The final tally was 2,654 in favor to 2,131 against unionizing.
But just look at how starting slowly, using empathy, planning, listening, rapport, assessing power v. leverage, researching standards and how to challenge them – steadily flourished to make a large scale difference. That’s why the small stuff matters. If you commit to these habits in little ways with your communication and actions everyday, it all adds up.
By Lucia Kanter St. Amour, Pactum Factum Principal
Are you the sort of person who makes a list before going to the grocery store and then only buys the items on the list while in the store? Or do you skip the list, grab some produce and staples like milk and eggs, and then browse the frozen and prepared foods sections for weekly dinner ideas? If you’re anything like me, you do both: plan something of a menu for the week and list ingredients for those recipes, but stay open to something that inspires you as you wind the shopping cart form aisle to aisle (“Oooooh. Pomegranate seeds would be nice to toss in our salads this week.”) This strikes me as a winning combination of planning and flexibility, which translates well to other facets of life: travel, parenting, group projects. It’s no different in negotiation. We covered planning in some detail in a prior issue and emphasized how important it is. It’s easy to become disoriented, emotional, confused or simply tired while in the throes of negotiating. Having that plan to anchor and re-focus you is key. And it’s that anchor that provides you the freedom and comfort to be flexible and follow your instincts in the moment. I don’t mean to convey a mixed message.
These days, we are bombarded by catchy psudo-psychology marketing phrases that encourage us to “have a growth mindset; lean in; do something that scares you everyday; get out of your comfort zone” which some interpret as skipping the stodgy planning and “just going with your gut.” At this point you may be saying, “I’m confused: should I take it easy or take it to the limit one more time?
I’m saying that the planning stage is what actually allows you to pay attention to your “gut” instincts in the negotiation and feel confident about them.
What I’m really talking about is interoception, which is defined as the internal state of the body – both conscious and unconscious. You might even call it your “Spidey Sense.” Interoception encompasses visceral signaling projected to the brain via neuropathways and typically manifests in the cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. In 2021 the NY Times Journalist Ezra Klein took a deep dive into this subject matter in an interview with science writer Annie Murhpy Paul about her new book, “The Extended Mind.” He sums up the conceit of the book as about:
“recognizing that we have the intuitive metaphor of our minds, . . . an analytical machine, a computer of sorts. And we’ve taken this broken metaphor of the mind and then built schools and workplaces and society on top of it, built the environment on top of it. And the result is that our work and school lives are littered with these productivity paradoxes. . . . It has radical implications not just for how we think about ourselves but for policy, for architecture, for our social lives, for schooling, for the economy.”
In his interview with Paul they discuss the problem with the long-standing and all too dominant analogy of our brain as a computer when, actually, it is a living organism that has evolved over time in many contexts – and mostly outside – must be understood on its own terms. Cognitive processing is just part of the information our brains supply us, while much more “thinking” is emanating from within the body and unconsciously. They talked about a study by the psychologist Antonio Damasio, which monitored the body receiving some of these unconscious processes in a pattern recognition card game that was actually fixed and how, at some point along the way, the study participants sensed which deck was “bad” and instinctively stopped drawing from it. Other studies of Wall Street traders identified those who seem to make more money when they’re more interoceptively attuned, that is better at reading their own body signals. When our nervous system is aroused, it’s feeding us information. Ignoring these sensations as simply “fear” or “anxiety” or inconsistent with “leaning in” or a “growth mindset” is no different than dismissing evidence consciously driven by the executive functioning of the brain.
So don’t dismiss it! Here at Pactum Factum we have cautioned for many years against hailing rational analysis and logical reasoning as the best or only method of making decisions or engaging with others – in negotiation, in conflict, or in the vagaries of everyday interactions. Those who can harness the powers of the mind and the body, and reference them at appropriate moments – – well, they are next level everyday superheroes. And that can be you!
If you know you’ve prepared well for a negotiation, despite all the multi-layered dynamics tumbling toward you during that negotiation, enjoy the confidence of your preparation and trust your interoception. At the very least, hit the pause button to allow yourself time to reflect. In very few circumstances do you need to be rushed into a decision. Urgency is commonly manufactured as a pressure tactic. Don’t fall for it. How many times have you been casually browsing for an item on-line and you come upon a website where, coincidentally, everything is 20% until the end of . . . that day! Oh – how lucky you happened across this website at this serendipitous moment. You had just been casually looking, but now you’d better go ahead and complete the purchase before that deal ends! You have likely been drawn into a classic sales ploy of creating scarcity of time (“Act now! This offer won’t last.”) Well, maybe and maybe not. If that coupon vanishes tomorrow, another will probably appear soon enough.
I’m going to close out this issue with a bedtime story. I promised we’d discuss art, literature, culture, music, history, and how it all relates to you honing your negotiation skills as an everyday superpower . . .
Show of hands how many of you have read (and/or read to your children) Margaret Wise Brown’s famous children’s book, Goodnight Moon?
I thought so.
Turns out, Margaret Wise Brown was way ahead of her time in understanding interoception. Goodnight Moon did not first appear on a public library shelf until 1972 – twenty-five years after it was first published. Why? Well, she was a prolific children’s author at a time when the expected format of children’s literature was to conform to a structured story arc with a morality message – that or a fantastical fairy tale. With Goodnight Moon, Brown soundly rejected this structure and adopted an altogether radical approach. She was fortunate enough to fall in with a dedicated group of avant-garde experimental writers in New York who would audition their draft stories with groups of children. Employing some unconventional brainstorming techniques, she observed that young children connected with an experience that engaged the senses and that included objects and characters they could relate to (not fantasy – this came in a later phase of childhood). And they didn’t care about plot. So: small animals (a bunny, a mouse), everyday objects (a comb, a brush, a lamp). These familiar objects and animals, combined with the flat, saturated, primary-hued Matisse-like illustrations of Clement Hurd, and a studied focus on the sound of the rhythmic, repetitive (almost hypnotic) words all contributed to a experience that felt just plain good in children’s bodies. It felt comforting, safe – like a cozy blankie. And it was absolutely radical at the time – you might even say seductive.
What does this have to do with negotiation or your life? Well, as I’ve preached before – – it’s all connected. We are all connected. You may be (necessarily) focused on the negotiations unfolding in your everyday life. But at the same time, throughout the centuries and continuing now, people are engaged in broader negotiations with society: challenging the status quo, asking, “does this framework still work? Is there some other approach?” Margaret Wise Brown defied many societal rules and expectations as an individual, and certainly norms in the publishing business in the 1930’s through 1950’s. Author of over a hundred manuscripts of children’s stories, she typically worked on each for a couple of years while researching and testing language on children, before she considered them complete (ah . . . interoception meets planning . . .) The different schools of thought surrounding the appropriate content of children’s literature was a stand-off that lasted decades. Hard to imagine, now that we accept Goodnight Moon – translated into at least a dozen languages – as a mainstay of a child’s bookshelf.
As I draw this issue to a close, I encourage you to sharpen your everyday negotiating superpower through planning, tuning in to your spidey-sense, and gazing beyond your own back yard to the larger negotiations we are witnessing right now as society evolves. It’s actually terribly exciting. And if all that stimulation makes it hard to fall asleep, I can recommend a good bedtime story . . .
Lucia Kanter St. Amour, Pactum Factum Principal
The “marketplace of ideas” concept of freedom of expression has been around since 1859 and the American philosopher John Stuart Mill. It is based on the same theory of economics that superior products sell better than inferior products: thus, spurious speech will be filtered out while the most worthy ideas rise to the top. It was Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who, in a 1919 Supreme Court case, introduced the “marketplace” idea into judicial analysis and, since then, it has been repeated by the Supreme Court to oppose censorship and support freedom of thought and expression. It is a powerful idea.
Suffice to say: technology and society have evolved since Mill and Justice Holmes so purely preached that the free competition of ideas is the best way to separate falsehood from fact. Is it still relevant? Was it ever a reliable theory?
In recent years, “fake news” has become a pervading paradox to dismiss facts that are disliked over prurient opinion – which then is tweeted and followed and elevated to a point of muting objective fact. Certainly some false information is a product of misinformation posted by regular folks and spread through the blogosphere. But it’s also a new business model: entrepreneurs seek to make money by contriving false information and garnering advertising. Even more disconcerting is the increasingly predominant paradigm of opinions equating to facts with the art of dialectical discourse fading like a watermark on The Bill of Rights, and disrupting our personal lives, negotiations and conflict scenarios.
Has the “marketplace” of ideas crashed, with free speech running amok? Could it simply not withstand the relentless demagoguery of social media, which Mill and Holmes could never have imagined? Founding Father James Madison believed that the First Amendment was the triumph of reason and humanity, over error and oppression. But reason only carries humanity so far and Mr. Madison never signed up for Instagram.
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson teaches three categories of truths: objective truth, personal truth and political truth. He warns against asserting a truth before making sure it’s not just an opinion you desperately want to be true. But I have to ask: if the post by the boy crying wolf surpasses one million views, does the wolf evolve from fiction to fact?
And now to challenge Dr. Tyson: is there such a thing as objective truth? And what happens when the marketplace of ideas crashes in our own back yard, threatening our job, family status, business venture, or peaceful relationship with a neighbor? As a mediator, my long-standing refrain is that there are not two sides to a story. There are actually two different stories. For each party their story is real, valid and “fact.” Philosophers throughout the ages have grappled with the question of objective fact, with varying perspectives. Plato is known for a distinctive view of objective reality. He asserted roughly that the greatest reality was not in the ordinary physical objects we perceive around us, but in what he calls Forms, or Ideas. While Nietzsche did not plainly reject truth and objectivity, he did reject the notions of absolute truth, external facts, and non-perspectival objectivity.
As individuals navigating our own stories, and as a mediator observing, listening and learning the stories (and attitudes about “facts”) of parties breaking through conflict, it is useful to bear in mind that we are not fully in control of our own story. We are interwoven with each other forming and being reformed as we move through the world. As the moral philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has proffered, our actions are constantly woven into the web of others. Embracing this realization can neutralize some of the insidious loneliness (and arrogance) of the singular perspective (fueled also by Confirmation Bias – see June 2016 post on this blog) of our subjective narrative . But it requires curiosity – or at least some unfulfilled need to move forward (e.g. “If I can’t negotiate the cost of COBRA coverage and a positive reference, I risk future job opportunities and replenishing my child’s medication, which is essential to my the livelihood of my family.”).
The fact that one is engaged in conflict (and the untangling of it – through mediation or negotiation) at all, while uncomfortable for many people, is very promising because conflict is a signal that something must change. The best advice I can offer when absorbed in a negotiation with another party whose facts differ from yours is to not place too much importance on them.
Yes, I repeat: Do not place too much importance on facts in a negotiation.
Peace-making strategies based solely on rationality and logic are limited. And remember that memory is faulty (including yours); we edit and adjust past events to fit the current situation. Instead, find out what emotionally matters to the other side, and how your stories are interwoven and informing one another. Ask what you each might lose if you don’t reach a deal.
Our nation’s “marketplace” of ideas may be in crises. But like our own individual (or organizational) conflict, I choose to believe the disruption is not only productive, but necessary for progress – which takes time, is not neat and linear, and happens in increments. When you find yourself mired in mess, it’s time to get excited because you are a player in a process that is ripe for a breakthrough.
Lucia Kanter St. Amour, Pactum Factum Principal