Negotiating with North Korea

in Program

This is an article about the “p” word—process. In some circles, it considered best to speak the word with head tilted slightly back, indicating barely concealed contempt. That way, you can demonstrate that you don’t think the manner and means—i.e., the process—by which agreements are negotiated are important because you are tough-minded and are really only interested in results.

Why such an allergy to using the “p” word exists is a good question. How in the world anyone expects to cross the street without putting one foot in front of the other, I don’t know. Negotiations need process—at the simplest level, the where, when, what and who; tables and chairs and coffee breaks for crucial off-line conversations; dinners or lunches sometimes; paper, pencils, a joke here or there to break the tension. And most of all, process is communication—serious, sustained, intense communication of ideas back and forth across the table. That includes listening closely as well as speaking precisely.

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