Don’t be alarmed, this is not a political piece! Despite being in the midst of a fascinating and complex political whirlpool which we well all tell our grandchildren about one day, I remain calm and objective. Ever the professional observer of life!
I use the Thomas Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument (TKI) a lot in my negotiations training and coaching, and think it helps a lot to analyse and possibly predict the result of this particular negotiation scenario.
My recent Conflict in Action video on TKI profiles explains the 5 styles and what they look like in action.
Look at the characters. There is Gordon, waiting to find out how Nick and Dave are going to get on, but doing whatever he can behind the scenes to move things his way. If you asked me to speculate on his profile, I’d say he’s an ISTJ (Myers Briggs code for Introverted, detail-conscious, logical thinking and stuctured in his approach to life – hence his profound discomfort in all things Extraverted such as being in front of a TV camera). From what one reads about his style, he is prone to outbursts and aggressive behaviour (I enjoyed a recently reported one from the Daily Telegraph in which he was heard to shout at Tony Blair “When are you going to ******* get out of here?”). I suspect he is a TKI Competer. He likes to Win, get his own way, not necessarily concerned for the needs of the other party. The pre-emptive strike on Thursday after the election results were announced in which he publicly declared an open door and a deal on electoral reform for the Lib Dems was an attempt to gain the upper hand from a position of weakness. The pundits reckon he may have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of Downing Street: a fighter to the last. A Competer if ever I saw one.
So what of Dave and Nick? Well, certainly they are putting a Collaborative face on their negotiations: everything “in the interest of the country”. Putting aside their public animosity towards each other, they now have to work together if they both want to win something. I wonder, though, what their real Conflict Profiles are. I wish they would tell us this sort of thing as part of the voting process. Imagine a ballot paper which said: “Gordon Brown. Labour. ISTJ. Competer.” “David Cameron. Conservative. ENTP. Collaborator.” “Nick Klegg. Liberal Democrats. ESTP. Compromiser.” I’ve always said you should have to share your MBTI and Thomas Kilmann profiles with your betrothed before being allowed to marry. Maybe we should have this information before we marry our Prime Minister?
I digress. I think Dave has the key to it. My guess is his instinct is to get creative, take some risk and be flexible, and come up with a breakthrough idea which will make a partnership with the Lib Dems possible. Nick will give ground and have to do some internal selling to convince the more competitive types within his party. It will work.
And as for Gordon? Well, sorry old thing, but when you play Win/Lose with someone who is more creative and has a fresher brain than you, it can only go one of two ways, and on this occasion it isn’t your way. Get your bags packed. Your biography and after dinner speaking circuit awaits you.
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