Negotiating Despite the Agression of “Versus”

As a trial lawyer, I take the word “versus”  for granted. It has been in  every caption of every case that I have ever been involved. Sadly, it has become more than part of the caption, it has become synonymous with an attitude of aggression.
Look  more closely at the definition and  learn “versus” come from Latin meaning   “against, turned.” We  also get the phrase vice-versa: reverse from the way it has been assumed, conversely, inversely.  Copernicus was the first to suggest that the earth revolves around the sun, and not vice versa. Likewise, the way we think NOW may be in error or contrary to reality.
Unfortunately, when we see “versus” there is the assumption of stern, belligerence: “North v. South,”  “Wrong v. Right,”  “Us v. Them.”  Often things are not as they seem and it’s not until the complete presentation  of all information that we  can come to a conclusion. Even then it may not be “all versus nothing”; it may be “some, but not all.”
We have to get out of this poor thinking that “she is ALL wrong and I am all right.” Yes, there absolute truths, but NONE of us are absolutely truthful, “…No matter how thin the pancake, there are  still two sides,” to quote Dr. Phil McGraw.
How we deal with conflict reveals much about our maturity and character. Is it all about being right, winning at all costs, speaking our mind no matter what the consequence? On the other hand (“vice versa”), do we consider the other side, do we analyze the risk and cost of winning (or losing), do we temper our words to reduce the emotions of the conflict?
Yes, we need to be READY to defend or pursue a claim when unjustly treated, but we need to always negotiate fairly and seek compromise. We must do ALL that is within OUR power  to bring about peace. *
“Making” peace and “keeping” peace are not the same.  Keeping peace is often docile and overly conciliatory; giving  the other side whatever he wants to “keep the peace.” Making peace requires a level of meekness (strength under control) in zealously presenting your case but always with an attitude of being reconciliatory — bringing both sides together — if possible.
Unfortunately, even  when we feel like handling a matter peacefully, there are those who push us to “take stand” or “fight back.”   Quiet that noise as you evaluate with clear conviction if you are 100 percent right? Do you really believe you have NO part in where you find yourself? I am not talking about the initial cause, but the present result. Perhaps the ball started rolling because of an initial harm; however, how far the ball continues to roll depends on when you pick  it up.

If you don’t want to think beyond your own closed mind, you won’t want someone else’s ideas in there mixing things up. So that makes fertile ground for narrowing your  perspective. It creates a mindset of ubiquitous obnoxiousness. Perhaps when you finally give up the quest to exceed others  in the Guinness Book of Obnoxiousness, you will find a way to say, “We agree.”
Once  we agree, let’s not poke the agreement full of “nut words, green cherry words, and little chunks of pineapple word” and  plump it up like we’re  baking a fruitcake. All that butter and rum just to say, “We agree.”
Rather than making things simple, we fob it off, and get something like:  
“We would also like to come to complete agreement on a resolution to this matter (but we have to appear combative, ridiculous, uncompromising, and therefore interesting, or we will never get our own TV reality show when we’re through with this gig, and why are we in this if not for that?).”

A better idea would be:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your friends, hate your enemies.’ But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil. Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that!”  Matthew 5:43-47
So the next time you think about those opposing you, remember your attitude in the situation. Don’t seek only to change THEIR mind, but to see from their perspective. All good lawyers/negotiators know that “versus” is just part of the caption; not the final resolution.

If there is anything we can do to assist you bringing a dispute to resolution, please feel free to call day or night.


Mark Perkins
Perkins & Associates, LLC
* I am ready, willing and able to try any case that needs to be tried. I have tried more jury trials than most lawyers try in their entire career; however, “discretion is the better part of valor.”
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