Think of a marriage in crisis. The best way to save the situation is to put everything on the table -- including possible divorce -- and then go through the steps I outlined here. Only by setting their positions down, and moving to the deeper levels, can the people have their best shot at a great outcome. Ironically, the more you hold to a position, the less likely you are to get it.
Don't go straight for a compromise. The Democrats get a flag on field here. The tone is: "The election is over, now let's meet in the middle -- you get some of what you want, and we get some of what we want." Wrong, dead wrong. Go through the process.
Don't confuse positions with core values. The Republicans get the penalty flag here. "No new taxes" is a position, not a core value. People should never compromise on their core values, but they should be prepared to let go of their positions. Likewise, for Democrats, "go back to the pre-Bush tax rates for the wealthy" is a position, not a core value. The core values are far more interesting: growth, opportunity, fairness, and responsibility. Imagine a bill, signed by the president, that honored those principles, instead of merely cobbling together the demands of both parties. Everyone wins, and the lawmakers would truly be leaders.
Get out the popcorn and let's see how close to this fiscal cliff we get. With these principles in mind, you will leave the drama with better skills to negotiate your future. Really, this isn't that hard.
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