What should your demand be?

“You establish realistic demands so that targets take you seriously, and you leave room for negotiations.” (Tools for Radical Democracy, Minieri and Getsos)

Let’s start with two examples of bad demands:

  1. We demand the immediate dissolution of the capitalist/white-supremacist/patriarchal/militarist state
  2. We demand a .0001% increase in wages to be made up for by workers skipping lunch.

I often see groups argue over what they should ask for in a demand. The debate often goes between “realists” and “idealists.” And, as is often the case, both have a bit of the truth.

The idealists see the grand goal, and they are impatient to get things over with and fix all that is broken in the system.

The realists want to see some progress, and they don’t want to have what progress they can achieve undermined by asking for too much.

How can find the right spot between demanding too much and too little?

Michael Donaldson’s book Fearless Negotiating (commented on here) gives a simple 3-step method to help you figure out that point. You need to figure out 3 things:

  1. What your best case scenario is (your “wish”)
  2. What you think you can get (your “want”)
  3. what’s so little that you won’t accept it (your “walk”).

It’s easier to ask for too much or too little. To ask for just the right amount takes more work, but I think it’s worth it.

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