The Negotiation Styles of Star Trek Captains

I’ve been a fan of Star Trek for as long as I can remember, so it’s no wonder that whenever I have to make tough decisions – big or small, business or personal – I think about how my favorite Star Trek characters would react and try to incorporate their strengths into mine.

Kirk has a unique flair, a Sorkin-esque ability to say the right thing at the right time. Just the right amount of in-your-face honesty combined with child-like enthusiasm for a better tomorrow. He works with conviction to make a difference.

Kirk’s my man whenever there’s a distinct gap between where I am and where I want to be. Especially when the thing standing in my way is an archaic rule, viewpoint, or ideology that should be changed – and can be changed by someone passionate enough to deliver the right words and make someone believe that it can be better.

Picard is the penultimate diplomat. Anthropologist, historian, and sociologist mixed a healthy dose of scientist and explorer, Picard is a no-nonsense negotiator who demands respect through showing respect (where it’s earned, at least). He can cut to the core of an issue, put aside pettiness, and get a situation resolved. Picard doesn’t mind calling it as he sees it, sometimes with a flourished threat or insult to make a point, but always with the end-goal in mind.

Picard is useful whenever I need to compartmentalize my feelings on a situation in favor of a bigger goal. His propensity for fairness and rational thought is second to none.

Sisko is the master of adaptation. Totally unafraid of change, from losing his wife and becoming a single father to taking command of a space station owned by a provisional government to becoming the accidental spiritual leader of an entire race to being the decision maker in the biggest war the Federation has ever seen.

Sisko is the one I turn to when the ground I’m standing on is unstable and with a little faith and a lot of patience, things can turn around.

Janeway is the teacher. Regularly the most witty of the Captains, she’s a thoughtful and compassionate leader and excels at inspiring the best in her crew. Her solutions are creative, artistic, and holistic. Janeway is an excellent educator, combining wry delivery with a genuine passion for knowledge.

Janeway comes out when I need to see something from all angles and deliver a truly creative solution.

Archer is the pit-fighter. When the odds are against him, and the situation is grim, Archer stops at nothing to accomplish the mission. He meets adversity with assertiveness, and then focused aggression. While Archer does have the ability to see the bigger strategic picture, he gets frustrated with oblong paths to achieve his goal and opts instead for cutting through the crap and knocking down barriers as opposed to playing nice. He has a no-nonsense delivery which many of the other Captains also share, but Archer seems to be in a semi-permanent state of “don’t tread on me”.

I call on Archer whenever I’m taken advantage of. He’s quite simply the master of holding his own and going all 12 rounds.

Sulu is the standard-bearer. When I think about what makes the Federation work, Captain Sulu comes to mind. From risking outright war to come to Kirk’s aid, apprehending killers, or just exploring the new frontier with courage and dedication, Sulu cleans up.

Sulu comes out when follow-up is needed to make sure the job is done right.

Did I miss something? How do you use the Captains in your day-to-day life? Let me know in the comments.

(Photo credit: George Takei)

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