I next want to think about threats. I'll start off with a story. This was an air traffic controller strike. It was in 1981 and nearly 13,000 air traffic controllers went on strike. They were negotiating over wages, hours and benefits and they're negotiating with the federal government. Now you can think about this, 13,000 air-traffic controllers they're controlling all of the flights throughout the United States. Now the President at the time, Ronald Reagan, he was a new president and he came out and said, they're in violation of the law.. If they do not report for work within 48 hours they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated. Okay. So, he issues this threat. He's threatened to fire 13,000 people who are controlling all of the air traffic in the United States. Okay. So this happens on August 3rd. Two days later, so he said 48 hours. Two days later, August 5th, President Reagan comes out and he carries out his threat. He fires the 11,359 people. So 11,359 air traffic controllers who didn't show up for work. Now these air traffic controllers hadn't believed that he would follow through on this threat. But Reagan made the threat, he followed through on it and by October 22nd the air traffic controllers union was officially decertified. So he went around the air traffic controllers, he ended up pulling people from the military to get a patchwork solution in place. He ended up then retraining, filling these positions. But he effectively followed through on his threat and as a consequence of this, the US Attorney General, Edwin Meese, at the time considered this the defining moment of Reagan's presidency. That is, he saw this as the foundation for Reagan's subsequent successes because he had built credibility by following through on this threat. So Reagan ended up with a lot of legislative and diplomatic successes and part of it was because of the credibility people had with him. So in this case, very dramatic. There was a use of a threat and it ended up paying dividends for Ronald Reagan, though it was an expensive course of action to pursue. What you want to think about is when should we use threats? And what do they do? And how do we respond to these threats? So first, think about when to use threats. We do it when we want to get attention. If it feels that people aren't paying attention, they're not taking us seriously. want to grab that attention, a threat will do that. It'll also send a message that the status quo is not acceptable. We want to change how things are going. Or in Reagan's case, to set a precedent and in this case, build credibility. I'll think about two other threats in the context of strikes. The Canadian Auto Workers went on strike in 84. Each day on the strike cost the company millions of dollars in lost production. And after 13 days on strike General Motors conceded to all the key demands of the auto workers. So here there was a threat to go on strike. GM capitulated and that threat of the strike and continue to go on strike was very successful. About the same time in 1985, Hormel meat-packers went on strike in Minnesota. Management however, was ready to keep production going. They actually served in the factory themselves and they ended up hiring replacement workers who were willing to work for less money. So they're able to fill demand. And in that case, few of the demands were ever met. And most of those employees ended up losing their jobs. The meat-packers had over-estimated the impact of their threat of going on strike, trying to ruin the company. And they ended up losing. So here are cases of threats that are going in both directions. So threats that effectively worked and threats that didn't. Based upon how much power you actually have, and thus we can make bad miscalculations. Now, here's a more disturbing example. In 2004 in Iraq, militants seized a South Korean man. And they delivered an ultimatum, this threat South Korea. Pull your forces out of Iraq or we'll be sending this hostage's head back to you. You have 24 hours. Now this threat's difficult. It's 24 hours to remove troops is really quick. South Korea officially refused to halt their military deployment and then a second video was released only two days later showing this man getting decapitated. So here these militants had followed through on this gruesome threat. Now the following month a Filipino truck driver was taken hostage. These kidnappers in the video said, the last Filipino troop has to leave Iraq on this date and if it goes beyond the end of the month, we're going to behead this truck driver. And the Philippine government quickly withdrew the 51 member presence they had in Iraq. The hostage was then released the next day. Now in this case, it's a very disturbing course of events but I'll think about it from a threat perspective and this credibility perspective. What's going on? That is, how are they able to effectively change international policies? And they're able to do by that following through on a very disturbing threat. I think when you look at threats and figure out sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. And when I think about when they do and when they don't. Now, here's this idea about using threats. Willingness. Are you willing to follow through? The threat has to be credible and you want to avoid threats that are going to hurt you more than your counterpart. But often following through on threats is very costly to you. So it was costly to Reagan to fire all those workers and replaced them. It was costly for the Hormel meat-packers to hire all new workers, at least in a short run. But we need to make sure we have a threat that's really costly to the counterpart. In the GM example the threat was more costly to the other side and that makes it effective. You want the demands to be reasonable. Can the other side comply with the demands? So you notice in that hostage taking example, the first threat was not reasonable. It built credibility. The second threat though gave a month to remove 51 people. That was a more reasonable demand and that ended up gaining compliance. Okay, let's think about interests. So what are their interests? What are your interests? We want to avoid rash threats. We want threats to come from a place of calculation, where we want to gain compliance to further somebody else's interests. So we don't want to punish people, we want to motivate people. So if we could all get back to work, we'll be productive. And here's a way to avoid some bad consequence as opposed to a bullying kind of threat, which is likely to promote reactions. Now still, some of the examples we talked about showed effective threats that were really bullying. But they're not a foundation for a long-term relationship and they're likely to motivate people to retaliate. Now, we also want to think about saving face. So we don't want irrational threats or wimpy threats. We want to make it easy for the other side to meet demands, as if they're choosing. Because again, we can incite reactions and revenge. So we want to build respect and build credibility. Those are the key ideas. Rather than just throwing out threats as a way that can actually undermine our credibility if we don't follow through or people call us on them because they're calling our bluff. And then, finally, you want to be exact when we're conveying a threat. So, we want to be very clear about if you do this then here's what's going to happen. So you want to set a clear deadline. We want to be very clear about our consequences. We want to be specific. And remember, if we don't follow through, we lose credibility. And if we do follow through, it's often costly, at least in the short run. So that's the idea about delivering threats. The next idea is how we deal with threats. So when people make threats we should recognize that these threats push our neurological buttons. We really crave retaliation. That is, we want to go beat up that person that issued a threat. This is one reason why we used to be very judicious and careful when we issue threats. Because we're pushing somebody else's buttons and that reaction is likely to blow up back in our face. Now, when it's happening to us my recommendation is to avoid escalating conflict. We want to be very careful about being just reactive, even though that might be what feels best in the moment. Now, on this I want to be very careful about conceding too quickly. Because if we concede to somebody who's making threats, we're encouraging them to operate that way and we lose power. So, one thing we might do is ignore a threat. In fact, this is what a lot of hostage negotiators do. Hostage negotiators will frequently talk through a threat deadline. So some hostage will say, look this is the deadline. And right before the deadline, the negotiators will get on the phone, they'll start talking through and they'll try to move the conversation forward somewhere. And never go back to hey, you said you were going to throw somebody off a building, you never did. Ha ha. They don't come back to it, but they talk through it. So they're ignoring that threat. And often, when we look at these studies negotiators abandon their threats most of the time. 77% of the time when the threat goes unreciprocated. As we respond to threats we want to think about a few key things. One is try to figure out the motivation. So what's behind that threat? It could be that the person who's issuing the threat feels like a victim. So they feel frustrated or offended. They feel neglected. And this threat is coming out of a desire to be heard. So they feel like they can't grab attention unless they issue that threat. If that's the motivation, it's really important. They're calling out for attention. They care deeply about this issue and we want to give them careful attention. It could be they're just being pragmatic. So, they have a really strong alternative and this is how they're going to deal with you. This is how they see the playing field. And they want to gain leverage with this threat. The third case is they're just bluffing. This is how they have done business in the past or threats insecurity. The threat really isn't serious, they just found that issuing threats are a good way to gain compliance. So you want to think about where this threat is coming from and we want to respond appropriately. So if somebody is just trying to gain attention, we want to express understanding. You want to listen. We want to figure out what their grievances are and express understanding for their troubles. So we want to soothe their concerns. Now, we should also ask questions. So, how intense is this threat and how intense is their feeling about it? And if it's a pragmatist, we can come up with creative solutions to address it. Now, if it's somebody who's just bluffing just to gain compliance as a matter of practice, you want to label that behavior and we really want to counter it. So we'd like to call it out or ignore it completely. And sometimes when we're really stuck what we have to do is deliver a counter threat. Now, remember I said this could escalate conflict, but sometimes to establish credibility we issue a counter threat saying, look if you do that here's what we'll be forced to do. But none of us wants to end up in that place. Let's try to get somewhere else. Or, I understand that you're feeling upset. If you take that course of action, here's the response that we're going to have to follow through with. But let's see if we can figure out a more creative way for us both to get what we need. So we'd like to move beyond threats and really deescalate them. But you can't just give in to every threat because we'll lose our own credibility, our own power. And that could be in the long run what's really most important.