A Golden Bridge/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on March 14, 2016


A recent post by the Program On Negotiation (PON) of Harvard University appeared with tips on how to “close” a negotiation. How does one get the other side to get to feel comfortable with reaching a settlement on contested issues?  The article suggested that people have to get the opportunity “to brag”.  Our counterparts in a negotiated settlement need to look great. More importantly, we have to allow them to get to that point. If the settlement causes a party to feel they have “lost face” in making concessions, they may retaliate at a future point or spurn the deal at the last moment.

In collective bargaining, management prefers when the union officials make an offer that they know they will be able to accept. In such a scenario, the union officials can then tell their rank-and-file that management gave in to their demands. Management, for its part, is less fearful about looking weak than are the union officials. They are therefore prepared to help the union officials look good to their flock so long as the matter gets resolved.

The objective here is to allow the opposing party to “build a golden bridge”. It helps all concerned when a resolution can allow the more needy party to have a graceful exit.

In a divorce mediation, it takes some doing for a party to allow the other party the opportunity to feel good about themselves. However, part of the Win-Win scenario is accepting the idea that when there are no losers everybody wins. Give your opposition their “golden bridge” if that will get you to the point you wish to be.