I was reading Gandhi's autobiography recently, The story of my experiences with the truth.
I stumbled upon a story involving a train. History also happens to validate the great principle of negotiation, which I will present later in this article.
The story begins in the days of Gandhi in South Africa. South African legislation required Indians to ride third grade trains. Immediately after arriving in South Africa, Gandhi first learned of this rule when he was thrown out trying to ride a first class car. It was an offensive episode in his life and left a deep impression on him. What is less known is that Gandhi immediately sought the second opportunity to challenge the train from Durban to Pretoria. This time he succeeded. He did this by using an "audience" to overcome the negotiating opponent.
Gandhi's position in these negotiations was that "well-dressed and well-behaved people can travel first class, regardless of race." The position of the railway company was that "coolers must travel to a third class." Gandhi predicted that this and his step-by-step approach were an example of effective preparation for achieving goals in the most difficult situations.
Gandhi's first step was to find a decision maker and find a way to submit his first-class ticket in person for a face-to-face meeting. He obtained the name of the parking lot in Durban and sent him a letter. Gandhi wrote that he was a barist who was used to traveling first class. He said he would go to the station's staff office the next day to get his ticket. By not leaving time to respond, Gandhi successfully avoided receiving a "no" in the mail. The driver was supposed to discuss Gandhi's request in person, and Gandhi knew he had a better chance if he could appeal his case in person.
Gandhi appeared the next day in front of the station, describing Gandhi as a "perfect English dress". He wanted to make an impression on the jeweler on one key fact:
"You sent me that scroll." asked the captain.
"That's it," Gandhi said. “I will be very obliged if you give me a ticket. I have to reach Pretoria today. "
Now a little good luck with Gandhi's personal meeting insistence. "I'm not a transverse," said the trainer. “I'm Dutch. I appreciate your feelings, and you have my sympathy. ”
The trainer gave Gandhi a ticket, but on condition that Gandhi would not be involved if the train conductor later challenged the ticket. Gandhi agreed, though it eliminated a prestigious ally who could later prove to be more than useful.
“I wish you a safe journey. I can see that you are a gentleman, ”concluded the trainer.
Now comes the hardest part. Gandhi had to find a way to persuade the conductor, who was not from the same social class who would be transversal, to allow him to remain in the first rank.
Here is where Gandhi used the so-called "audience" principle in negotiations. He had to find someone who would be sympathetic to his "well-dressed and well-behaved people can travel first class" position and whose conductor would feel responsible (somehow).
Gandhi passed through the corridor of the first class car until he found the audience he was looking for. An Englishman seated in a first-class cabin on his own, without South African whites. Gandhi sat down, holding his first class ticket and waiting for the conductor to arrive.
When the conductor arrived, he immediately saw that Gandhi was Indian and angrily demanded that he be moved to third class. Gandhi showed him his ticket. "It doesn't matter," said the conductor.
He then voiced Gandhi's "audience" who followed this rude behavior. "What do you mean by disturbing the gentleman?" She asked. “Don't you see that he has a first class ticket? I'm not at least against him traveling with me. " The Englishman then turned to Gandhi and said: "You have to make yourself comfortable where you are."
"If you want to swim with Cullie, what do I care about?" said the conductor. The conductor retreated, and Gandhi completed his first-class trip.
Warton's negotiation program says this to the audience. "In difficult cases you have to look for an ally. Third party who is responsible for your transaction partner and who sympathizes with your norms. When you can find such a person, you need to organize things to negotiate for or with a third party. The Allies serve the audience as a guarantee of the standards that should be applied fairly. In essence, you leverage the audience's consistency to circumvent the opposite of your goals. ”
Gandhi used the English as an audience to temporarily transgress the unjust standards of South African legislation. Later in his life he would use world public opinion to expose the unfair treatment of the British Indian people and to help India gain independence.