Can A Golden Bridge Help Stop The Government Shutdown?

Posted by on Oct 4, 2013 | No Comments

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

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