The Naval Stand-Off Story




This story is an 'alleged' transcript of an actual radio conversation between a US naval ship and Canadian maritime contact off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. The tale, in various versions and featuring different nationalities, has circulated widely in emails and in books for many years, and has been used by numerous speakers and writers to illustrate lessons relating to negotiation, making assumptions, and related themes. Unfortunately it is not true, but it is nevertheless a great story. If using this as a teaching analogy, you will probably be forgiven for not revealing the truth of the matter until after telling the story.

Americans: "Please divert your course 15 degrees North to avoid a collision."

Canadians: "Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees South to avoid collision."

Americans: "This is the captain of a US navy ship; I say again divert your course."

Canadians: "No. I say again, you divert YOUR course."

Americans: "THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES' ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT'S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THIS SHIP."

Canadians: "We are a lighthouse; your call."


Don't Think So Much Of Yourself That You Underestimate Others.

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