Repeal means Revise

The right to a speedy trial, the American expectation that conflicts within teams are resolved quickly, can indeed lead to judgements passed which are not ideal, optimal, right or even just.

Americans make decisions quickly, often hastily. But, if the decisions are narrow in scope – have been isolated – then they can be revised. There is time for reconsidering and revision. The parties involved in the decision can be brought back in.

This same logic applies to the American judicial system. It allows anyone sentenced in a court to appeal that sentence. An appeal is when the accused (and sentenced) can take their case from a lower to a higher court for review.

In the American business context, a team member who believes that the judgement is wrong, or the conflict resolution process was unfair, can ask to have that decision reviewed by next-level management or by a neutral third party within the company, typically the human resources department.

Sore Losers

No culture raises its children to be sore losers: someone who cannot admit defeat, makes excuses, challenges the final results.

Americans certainly do not like a sore loser. Instead, they respect a losing political candidate, sports team, work colleague who admits defeat, neither blames others, nor complains about the election, game or job being „unfair.“

In fact, in America many a (temporary) loser has come back to become a winner, primarily because they blamed themselves, looked at their own errors, and then corrected them. And they remained persistent.

The converse is the gracious winner: the person, team or organization which does not boast, brag or celebrate in an exaggerated way. Most importantly, gracious winners go out of their way to compliment, even praise, their opponent. Gracious winners stay small, don‘t puff themselves up. Modesty.

Sore: causing pain or distress; painfully sensitive; tender, hurt or inflamed so as to be or seem painful; attended by difficulties, hardship, or exertion; angry, irked. From Middle English sor, from Old English sār; akin to Old High German sēr sore and probably to Old Irish saeth distress.

Gracious: marked by kindness and courtesy, tact and delicacy; characterized by charm, good taste, generosity of spirit, and the tasteful leisure of wealth and good breeding. Latin gratiosus, enjoying favor, agreeable, from gratia.

Verdict

Verdict: The finding or decision of a jury on the matter submitted to it in trial; opinion, judgement. Middle English verdit, verdict. From Anglo-French veirdit, true + dictum.

Accept: To receive willingly; to give admittance or approval to; to endure without protest or reaction; to recognize as true; to make a favorable response to; to agree to undertake. Middle English, from Anglo-French accepter, from Latin acceptare, accipere to receive, from ad- + capere to take.

Revenge: To avenge (as oneself) usually by retaliating in kind or degree; to inflict injury in return for. From Anglo-French revenger, revengier, from re- + venger to avenge.

Grudge: To be unwilling to give or admit; give or allow reluctantly or resentfully. Middle English grucchen, grudgen to grumble, complain, from Middle High German grogezen, to howl.

Underdog

One reason why Americans don’t mind losing an argument is that once they lose, they can be seen as the underdog. Underdogs are people who are considered unlikely to win. There is a long history in America of the Underdog finding support and overcoming difficult odds to ultimately win in the end.

In the 1960s and 1970s a cartoon superhero series about an underdog (that was even called “Underdog”) was very popular.

In 1980 the US Olympic hockey team, which was comprised of young and inexperienced players, played against the seasoned Russian Olympic team. Even though the Russian team was highly favored to win, the American team ultimately defeated them. This event later inspired the 2004 film “Miracle.”

Cowboys, as lone travelers in a foreign land, were often the underdogs in the cowboy/Indian conflicts in early American history, yet many of them were able to overcome the difficulties and survive.

At age 13, Bobby Fischer won a chess match against one of the leading American chess masters. That match became known as the “Game of the Century.”

underdog: a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest; a victim of injustice or persecution: a less powerful person or thing that struggles against a more powerful person or thing.

Robert Frost, the celebrated American poet, wrote in 1928: „I’m a poor underdog. But tonight I will bark with the great Overdog. That romps through the dark.“

Repeals

There have been many famous repeals or court decisions in American history. In 1954 the Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal (the American slogan for segregation of white and black Americans) was no longer constitutional, an act that negated their earlier ruling in 1896.

The first case in the U.S. in which the court system determined that a law was unconstitutional and should be repealed occurred in 1803. It was the case of Marbury v Madison, when the Supreme Court decided that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was conflicted with the Constitution and was therefore null and void.

The case of Betts v Brady ruled that the 6th and 14th Amendments of the constitution guaranteeing a right to legal counsel does not mean that the government has to provide counsel for someone who cannot afford it. Later, the case Gideon v Wainwright overruled this decision, and anyone accused of a crime is entitled to free counsel if he/she can’t afford an attorney.

Appeal

The American judicial system allows anyone sentenced in a court to appeal that sentence. An appeal is when the accused (and sentenced) can take their case from a lower to a higher court for review.

In the American business context, a team member who believes that the judgement is wrong, or the conflict resolution process was unfair, can ask to have that decision reviewed by next-level management or by a neutral third party within the company, typically the human resources department.

“Win some. Lose some.“

Americans are willing to accept the resolution to a conflict which does not go in their favor. They may not be happy, but if the process was fair, they will accept the verdict and move on.

Nor will their manager, asked to intervene in order to resolve, hold any kind of grudge against either of the conflict parties. American managers know that they are paid to serve as judge in resolving internal disputes.

Historically, the United States has little experience with revanchism. Revanchism, from French revanche or revenge, is a term used since the 1870s to describe the desire to reverse territorial losses by a country after losing a war.

Revanchist politics rely on the identification of a nation, of a people, with a nation-state. This mobilizes ethnic nationalism, claiming territories outside of the state where members of the ethnic group live.

Isn’t that what management is paid for?

Americans and Germans have very different expectations about how to manage interpersonal conflicts when they arise, which can lead to huge misunderstandings. As part of an ongoing series of articles, an American consultant living in Germany offers some advice.

When Germans and American collaborate, there will be conflict. This is normal. However, their respective approaches to conflict resolution differ. These differences, if not understood and properly balanced, can hinder just and lasting conflict resolution. And unresolved conflict threatens collaboration and success.

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