I try to avoid politics in my blog, but after listening to politicians’ recounts of the negotiations now being held in Washington, I’m compelled share these suggestions from my years of experience negotiating and teaching negotiation skills.
- Tactical or Strategic – Is the negotiation tactical with no real impact or is it strategic? If tactical, it tends to be focused on the short term and has no real impact on the organization. If strategic. It’s best to develop guiding principles. People who dig into their positions tend to dig in so deep that the result is deadlock. People who explore the interests behind positions and work to establish guiding principles can find options and solutions.
- BATNA –Even someone with basic skills is taught to never enter a negotiation without a BATNA (best alternative to no/negotiated agreement). Failure to do so leads to deadlock, poor relationships and the inability to move forward.
- ZOPA -Every entry level negotiator is taught to analyze the situation, develop many options and calculate a ZOPA (zone of possible agreement) to be the focus on where positions can intersect.
- Competence and Capability – The parties need to be competent and capable to represent the interest of their stakeholders, while developing a solution that satisfies both parties and improves the overall organization.
- Ego – Make the negotiation about issues and solutions. Keep your ego in check and work in problem solving mode.
Unfortunately, if the negotiation involves two parties with big egos without the objective to solve, the negotiators can appear like children who take their toys home when they don’t get their way. In this case it’s best to start over with new teams who don’t carry baggage to the event. In business you change out the teams; it is possible for politicians to put a team together to work to an acceptable solution.
Can politicians step back and learn from business?