During the exile, Daniel, among other young and intelligent men were brought to the king’s palace for excellent education opportunities and high ranking civil services. As a privilege, these elites were given royal delicacies. However, “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way” (Daniel 1:8). There is a lot we can learn from Daniel’s negotiation tactics, which Sande (2004) refers to as the PAUSE process. PAUSE stands for Prepare, Affirm, Understand, Search, and Evaluate.
Prepare: Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine. We can assume that Daniel thought through the situation and contemplated his reply to the guard. It is crucial to begin any negotiation with thorough preparation. It may include prayers, collection of facts, identification of parties’ concerns and desires, as well as anticipation of reactions.
Affirm relationships: Daniel was respectful in his address to the guard. He referred to himself as the servant and began his plea with a please. He invited the guard to be the judge of the test.
Understand interests: The main issue of a dispute is obvious to the opposing parties who hold different positions. In this scenario, the issue was the king’s food. Daniel and his superior had opposing positions. Notice that Daniel listened and discerned the other’s underlying interests. But the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.” (Daniel 1:10). Daniel sought not only after his own interest, but also the interests of the other. Their common interests included obedience to the king, Daniel’s health, and the life of the official. Once both parties can identify their common interests, there is room to brainstorm new ways to resolve the difference.
Search for creative solutions: Daniel suggested a test of ten days with vegetables to eat and water to drink. It was a reasonable request and the guard agreed to the suggestion.
Evaluate options objectively and reasonably: It is said that “at the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.” (Daniel 1:15-16).
I work in a school and have had opportunities to interact with people across several generations; from baby boomers, generation X, millennials, to centennials, in addition to a mix of cultures and backgrounds. We have different values and expectations. The same word can often have multiple meanings as we look at it through different lenses. Hence, the PAUSE process provides a framework for peaceful resolution.
Conflict escalation can be a result of parties fixing their gaze on an issue and only restating their opposing positions. Harmony in differences can be achieved when we look into our underlying and shared interests. The PAUSE process is not an instantaneous, magical tool. It neither reduces the size of the challenge nor removes the degree of messiness. Moreover, it requires patience and courage to humble oneself and look into the interest of others. Yet, it comes with God’s blessing because it is a biblical approach to resolving differences and disputes among Christians. “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19-20).
Sande, K. (2004). The peacemaker: A biblical guide to resolving personal conflict. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.