By Steven G. Mehta

As a final discussion of cognitive distortions, it seems appropriate to discuss the fallacy of change.

Fallacy of Change.

This is one of the biggest mistakes made in negotiations.  We expect that other people will change to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough.  In the context of mediation, this fallacy comes to fruition because people feel that others will change simply because they wanted them to change.  Simply because one person desperately wants something to change does not mean that the other side will accede to this request.  If that were true, mediation would be unnecessary because the plaintiff simply wishes a change, and the defendant would accede.  These people often say, “tell the other side that I need the money,” or “tell them that this lawsuit is costing me too much.”

The Solution: These people need to understand that their wish does not come with a bottle and genie and two more wishes.  Explain that everyone, including them, does things for their own reasons.  Ask them if they will do something like dismiss the lawsuit or pay a lot of money simply because the other side wishes them to do so.  They need to be part of the discovery that their wish is not the other side’s command.  As they experience this issue throughout the  negotiations and your discussion, they may come to realize that they need to create reasons that the other side will understand and accept for a deal to be struck.  They must understand that people act for their own reasons, not yours.

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