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Quit Your Posturing!
March 1, 1999
 
When we speak of "posturing" we're sure that you all know what we're talking about.  It is the practice of carrying on at great length about how right you are and how wrong the other side is.  Often involved are heart-rending displays of emotion, table thumping, wild gesticulating, beady eyed staring, scripted speeches and veiled and not-so-veiled threats about inevitable next steps if your unfeeling adversary does not do whatever it is that your posturing is supposed to compel them to do.  Posturing is widespread in labour relations.  It seems that at any moment in time whether at the bargaining table, grievance meetings, labour management meetings or any other venue where labour and management representatives meet to hash out contentious or sometimes even routine issues, an enormous amount of time is spent posturing.  While one side often accuses the other in engaging in this annoying and usually pointless exercise, both sides are very adept at it.  The problem is, nobody buys it. The receiving side almost inevitably walks away dismissing the entire speech as just so much...posturing -  even the parts of it that are valid or may contain information worth noting or looking into. They then of course go on to do posturing of their own although they never think of it as such.

Take our advice: Stop it! Cut it out! It's not helping you! Nobody buys anybody else's posturing. It just gets in the way of productive communication. Worse yet, if you really do feel strongly about something one day, nobody will take you seriously. They will only assume that it is just more posturing.  So, when engaged in a dialogue about something you feel strongly about - no matter how strongly you feel: Speak as you would to anybody else. Get your point across but don't do the overkill. People respond much better when they feel they are talking to someone reasonable. Overkill just gets everybody's back up and puts them on the defensive. Also, if you are new to the labour-management relationship, you will quickly be labelled as a hot head, blow hard or all around big-mouth. The rest will be history. 

Because we are generally unwilling accept that our posturing is just that.  Here are some signs that you are prone to posturing and probably guilty of posturing:

You see the other side (labour or management) as inherently evil.
Everything upsets you, even minor stuff.
You routinely get visibly angry.
People (from your team or committee) often ask you if you're alright.
You believe that disappointing events- even routine ones - are the product of people who are out to make your life miserable.
You frequently cite legal authorities (case law, jurisprudence) that you believe will persuade your percieved adversaries without knowing much about them.
You immediately look for the hidden meanings or agendas in everything you hear.
You spend most of your time arguing.
You spend a lot of time preparing grandiose speeches.
You are prone to making grandiose statements regardless of whether you can support them.
You have a tendency to threaten litigation whenever you can't get your way.
When discussing a problem, you almost always assume that your adversary is philosophically predisposed to not finding a solution that will work for you. 
Nothing ever changes and you are frequently upset that you can't make progress on any issues that you are dealing with.