The Cuban Missile Crisis and me.

I’m reflecting on a little something from class on the Cuban Missile Crisis yesterday:

“We and you ought not to pull on the ends of a rope which you have tied the knots of war. Because the more the two of us pull, the tighter the knot will be tied.”

– Nikita Khrushchev, 1962

“That’s what I call empathy. We must try to put ourselves inside their skin and look at us through their eyes, just to understand the thoughts that lie behind their decisions and their actions.”

– Robert S. McNamara

“In the Cuban Missile Crisis, at the end, I think we did put ourselves in the skin of the Soviets. In the case of Vietnam, we didn’t know them well enough to empathize. And there was total misunderstanding as a result. They believed that we had simply replaced the French as a colonial power, and we were seeking to subject South and North Vietnam to our colonial interests, which was absolutely absurd. And we, we saw Vietnam as an element of the Cold War. Not what they saw it as: a civil war.”

– Robert S. McNamara

I never knew this, but I guess that’s why I go to classes: The Cuban Missile Crisis was an absolute perfect situation to today learn about negotiation. Deterrence, obviously. ut I never realized the sheer magnitude of the situation – and there is so much more.
And even in this situation where the world was so close to a nuclear breakout, we can still learn so many lessons about interpersonal communication and negotiation on a daily basis. Empathy and clear communication for starters.