The recent government shutdown can have a profound impact on federal workers. Research by management experts shows that the threat of imminent uncertainty, such as furlough or layoff, can be just as stressful as the furlough or layoff itself. A management professor at West Chester University, Anthony Wheeler, says psychologically, they are the same, the threat to one’s sense of security is the same. The more often the worker hears the threat, such as Presidential tweets, the greater the stress.

The studies looked at furloughs of state employees and layoffs of nurses before and after  hospital mergers. The studies found that high performers who had options would leave for other jobs elsewhere. And, they tend to leave quickly.

Another professor, Lisa Baranik at the University of Albany in New York, studied the 13 day shutdown in 2013. For up to five weeks after the shutdown ends, the effects lingered among the workers. Furloughs, she explained, are about much more than financial considerations. For most workers, the job is also a source of social interaction. They can discuss families and positive accomplishments at work. When they lose those bonds, they lose much of the positive effects of the job. Those positive effects take time to re-build.

Some folks suggest that the effect on federal workers is different, because they tend to have more of a sense of mission. They serve a cause, something larger than themselves. But, said one expert, this most recent shutdown and the threat of a second shutdown soon afterward makes this experience much more like layoffs in the private sector. See the Feb. 12, 201 edition of the San Antonio Express News for more information about these studies.

Lawyers are not the best negotiators, even though we are always negotiating something.  When I get into settlement talks, I am often surprised at how many folks do not ever negotiate.  I often use the example of yard sales and tell clients a settlement is like a yard sale, but with bigger numbers.  Some clients then tell me they always pay the asking price at a yard sale.  Ok…..

The Republicans, the Democrats and the President may not be skilled negotiators either.  Since, we are now in Day X of the shutdown.  The Republican position will worsen everyday as the shut down more and more affects everyday folks.  It is hard to hold to principle when folks are visibly suffering due to one’s principle.

In a settlement once, the opening "offer" from the employer’s lawyer was that they would "only" seek $15,000 in attorney’s fees when they win.  That is, they were saying they would seek $15,000 in sanctions when they win.  . . .   The employer wanted drama, but that sort of bullying negotiation tactic only offended the mediator and indicated I was wasting my time.  We left and received a refund on the mediator fee.  In the end, I suppose, the employer was right because we did not settle and we ultimately lost in a motion for summary judgment.  

But, I learned then that negative offers do not fly very far.  The Republican Congress has essentially offered to Pres. Obama that they would not shut down the government if he would agree to negotiate with them about Obamacare.  And, now we are in a shut down.  The Republican’s negative offer did not fly very far.  Bullying tactics do not work well in negotiation.  They tend to invite an equal response.