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Government Shutdown Tip: Build A Golden Bridge

by Jeff Thompson
October 2013

ADRHub Audio Blog

Jeff Thompson

Build a golden-what?

What does a bridge, no less a 'golden' one, have to do with mediation and negotiation? Well, the term is from William Ury's book, Getting Past No [here at Amazon and many others].

Building a golden bridge refers to making sure you have satisfied and overcome the the four common obstacles to an agreement: involving them in devising a solution, meeting unmet interests, helping them save face and finally making the process as simple and easy as possible.

There is much more to just making an attractive offer to the other party. If the above listed criteria are not satisfied, you might find yourself making what you think is the best offer for them, and then surprisingly they reject it.

As the current government shutdown continues down what is seemingly an intractable path, the following tips are all the more relevant.

1) Have everyone involved in building/writing the agreement
It is known that an agreement has a greater chance to be long lasting when the parties involved in the agreement also have input into what the agreement states. Even the best agreements can fail, or not even get finalized, if a party feels that they are being shut out. Simple ways to ensure everyone is involved is to ask them questions like, "what do you think?", "how do you see it?", "what should we do?"
Even if you are the one who suggested the idea earlier, do not take credit for it. You can say, "As we mentioned earlier," or to connect your comments with theirs, as Ury states, you can say something like, "Building on what you said earlier...".
Remember, keep focused on the goal- getting an agreement that will have you better off than your alternative. This is called your BATNA (use this acronym and impress your friends or fellow Congressmen- BATNA is Best Alternative to a Negotiated Aggreement). So, if this means taking a bite of "humble pie" and letting the other side think they came up with the idea that is good- you not only built them a Golden Bridge, you also got what you wanted.

2) Look beyond the obvious interests (i.e. money) to include other, not-so-obvious interests

Read the rest of the article at PsychologyToday.com HERE

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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