Straight Talk/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on January 1, 2019

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Senator Richard Shelby (R-ALA) was interviewed over the Holiday weekend concerning the need to deal with the Democrats, over budgetary matters, once the Democrats become the House majority party. This is what he said on “Face the Nation”: ““We’re gonna have to negotiate. I think that we ought to see what do the Democrats really want. We’ve got to move away from the blame game — blaming the president, blaming the Democrats, Pelosi and Schumer and others — and get back to doing what we’re sent there to do, to fund the government.”

When parties reach the impasse stage in their negotiations, the time for gamesmanship has passed. It then becomes necessary to have serious discussion and focus on what needs to get done.

It is easy to demonize a party if you intend to “ring up the points” with like-minded supporters. But there is a time when games must end, and the parties need to have a serious face-to-face discussion.

In court settings, it is not uncommon to see the parties seated at different tables, separated by their respective attorneys. In effect, the parties never even have to see one another. Their attorneys make their points, “strut their stuff”, and ensure that the parties have minimal contact. In a mediation, or negotiation, the dynamic changes. People need to talk, steer away from blame, and try to find solutions. If you want a good show, litigation may be the path you choose. If you seek solutions, in the mold of Win-Win, mediation/negotiation is the way to put the focus on “what needs to be done”. “Mediate don’t litigate” is the advice that invariably leads to the desired outcome.