Over 100 years ago Teddy Roosevelt referred to what he described as an old adage, namely ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick’. The meaning was clear. Where possible use diplomacy to resolve a dispute and do not rush to confrontation. But ensure you have the ability and willingness to use force if those diplomatic and peaceful methods fail.
Over the years that stick has too often been replaced with something else. The adage today, if modern diplomacy is anything to go by, could read ‘Speak softly and carry a big carrot’. One man who has often referred to this is the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, the always forthright and entertaining John Bolton.
With that in mind it was interesting to read this thought provoking piece by another Ambassador, this time the former British Ambassador Charles Crawford. In his post (designed to plug his consulting services) Crawford outlines the complexity inherent in negotiations and how problematic the stick and carrot approach can be. He then factors in the psychological side of negotiation for good measure. It offers a fascinating dip into the world of diplomacy and is well worth a read.