The Cat is not Well!

Published: Oct 07 , 2011
Author: Alan Smith

An elderly couple, grumpily married for over 30 years, decide to have a week apart for the first time in their long suffering marriage. The wife travels to see her sister, leaving her curmudgeonly (great word, look it up) husband in charge of the house and much loved cat.

Having arrived at her sister's home, the wife calls her husband to let him know that she has arrived and to check that everything is OK back home.

"Everything OK?" she asks.

"Fine," is the response, "but the cat is dead."

The wife, obviously distraught, is nonetheless furious.

"You handled that really badly," she yells. "I loved that cat. You could have told me that the cat looks a bit poorly. Then when I called to check tomorrow you could have said that she looks a bit worse and you are thinking of calling the vet. The next night you could have told me that the vet had been and the news is bad, but he that he had given her medicine to make her comfortable. Then finally you could have delivered the bad news that she had died peacefully."

The husband takes the advice stoically and hangs up.

The next night the wife calls home again.

"Everything OK?" She says.

"Fine" comes the response. "But your mother looks a bit poorly…"

I was reminded of this old joke when the IMF cut its growth forecast for Britain for the third time in nine months and warned George Osborne that further underperformance would warrant a policy U-turn.

For the negotiator the use of and revealing of information during the negotiation can structure the other side's expectations powerfully. Would a drip feed of bad news work better than the up front reveal? Think about how you would feel if you were in the other side's shoes.

If you don't, your negotiations may themselves end up unwell!

Alan Smith


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Alan Smith

About the author:

Alan Smith
My background is marketing and advertising. After graduating in Economics I entered the agency world to become, at 28, MD of London's largest independent below-the-line marketing provider.

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“When it comes to the qualifications we demand of our president, to start with, we need someone who will take the job seriously.” Michelle Obama. Don’t stop reading - this blog is not about Donald Trump. In the run up to the election of a new Labour Party Leader 4 years ago, the four candidates were invited by LBC radio to quiz each other. You can see the questions to Jeremy Corbyn here. There are two points of note. Firstly, when asked if he wants to be Prime Minister he ducks the question several times, instead referring to the ideological changes he wants to make within the Labour Party. Secondly when asked about his qualifications and experience to be leader of a major political party his answer is objectively underwhelming – before being an MP, he says, he had been a local councillor for 10 years. I don’t think it is difficult to relate those answers in 2015 to the current divided state of the Labour Party.

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