The Dead Body
A murky back alley in Edinburgh’s old town. A body found wrapped in fraying, black coal sacks. Inspector Rebus surveys the scene and begins piecing together the clues. The coal sacks… is it a lead, or is it a decoy? Where does each clue lead? Which to follow?
Ian Rankin is probably Scotland’s best crime writer. His character, Inspector Rebus, lives and breathes each case, rolling it over and over in his mind. Why the characters did what they did? What motivated them? Who benefits? Chewing the clues over in his mind time and time again, but he doesn’t get it.
Frustrated, he goes for a drive through the familiar streets of Edinburgh in his battered Saab. Suddenly, the insight comes. The key that opens the door. The breakthrough comes from more than just Rebus’s reasoning. It springs up from his well of knowledge – a deep, intimate knowledge of every aspect of the case. He swing’s his Saab around, and races off, following his intuition.
What makes a great detective? The ability to view the big picture from afar, and simultaneously examine each detail up close. To get into the shoes of the victim and the eye witness. To feel what they feel and understand why they do what they do. To live and breathe the case banging their head against a brick wall until a crack appears and the case opens out. And, when it does, having the determination and skill to force it open.
Detectives have a street-wise intuition. They can identify with the villain. As if, in another life, they were that villain. Like the saying that: both the priest and the cop know evil… but the priest only encounters evil intellectually, whilst the detective knows it in his gut.
Good negotiators are like these detectives. Chewing over the numbers, the facts, the arguments. Slowly piecing them all together. Probing their adversaries to find inroads, weak points, leads. Repeating arguments and developing the story, making sense of it. Coming out with a bold positional statement now and then… just to gauge reactions; who flinches and why? Forcing each participant to show his or her hand.
The best negotiators walk a mile in the shoes of all the players in a negotiation – not just the adversary. Each player’s position is understood viscerally, as are the interests and motivations from which that position arises. The negotiator pieces together the spider’s web that must be uncovered in order to craft the best possible deal.
Are you a priest or a detective in your software negotiations?
Image credit: “detective” by olarte ollie, creative commons, Flickr.com