Critical Thinking for Elected Representatives

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After the election the American people are calling upon their elected representatives in Washington and in State capitols to focus on how they can think together to find the solutions we need to move forward. Through the use of purposeful reflective judgment we will be striving to agree on goals that are derived from our core values (controlling debt, being fiscally accountable, supporting the life and work of America’s people, protecting and enriching the future of our children). If we dig around our own views as the only way to achieve those values and goals, we will find the negotiation of next steps in gridlock. Better to step back from specific solutions (“We have to do it my way.”) and locate alternative ways to realize each other’s objectives.

Achieving the best solution to a negotiation requires an honest discussion of conditions that make some alternatives seemingly impossible choices for one party or the other. Promises to please collaborators, funding agencies, or constituencies are not valid reasons to remove alternatives from the negotiation. We do not elect our representatives to serve our self-interest alone; we elect them to represent us when decisions need to be made about how to govern all of the people, in consideration of the greater good. Conditions change, and we want our representatives to be strong critical thinkers, analyzing problems as they continue to evolve (analyticity), following reasons and evidence wherever they lead (truth-seeking), being comprehensive in their approach (systematicity), reconsidering the problem in light of new information (maturity of judgment). Thinking through to a solution may require patience, but we can come to a negotiated solution without giving up anything we believe is important.

Excerpted from Tips on the Strategy of Interest-Based Negotiation, by Insight Assessment Senior Researchers, Dr Noreen Facione and Dr. Peter Facione.

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