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Why “Breakfast with Bridge Ogres”

The name of this blog is “Breakfast with Bridge Ogres”.  The allusion comes from an ancient Norwegian folk tale about the Three Billy Goats Gruff who must to cross a bridge to get to the mountain pastures of summer; and about their encounter with a Bridge Ogre, who eats goats for breakfast.  You see, the bridge and the summer pastures are all public property, and goats have a right to use the bridge and the summer pastures without being threatened by Bridge Ogres.  Meanwhile, the Bridge Ogre is a public servant who has decided to extort and, in this case, eat goat for breakfast.  While most goats get eaten by the Bridge Ogre, we see how the first two billy goats in our story talk their way around the hungry Ogre and over the bridge, “trippety-trop-trippety-trop”, without becoming breakfast.

That, my friends, is the happy tale of a small number of private citizens who have discovered how to get what is rightfully theirs without submitting to an extortionist government functionary. 

But, why have Breakfast with nasty Bridge Ogres?  Well, this blog is also about the importance of using Negotiation Theory and Practice to ethically and successfully handle Bridge Ogres.  One of the most powerful principles in Negotiation Theory is that people who do apparently bad things are also people, who have the same hierarchy of human needs as the rest of us.  It helps to remember that having Breakfast with Bridge Ogres (that is, recognizing their human needs and interests) will help you get what is rightfully yours without being had for breakfast by Bridge Ogres.

Of course, most of you who are bridge-keepers are not Ogres. This blog is also for you, to share and learn about how public servants can ethically and successfully resist the pressures to accept bribes, to demand bribes, or otherwise to act unethically.

Maria Jose Arias