What Makes a Negotiation?/Martin Rosenfeld,JD

Posted on January 10, 2019


After President Trump left the table with the Democrats regarding the Federal shutdown, Vice-President Pence gave his analysis; President Trump asked the Democratic leaders what they wanted to pay for the Wall. They would not offer any pay, so the president left, because it was obvious that the Democrats did not want to negotiate. Was the Vice-President correct? Did a negotiation actually take place?

An article written by John Sturrock, a mediator from Scotland, at mediate.com (August 2014) discusses such a scenario. In “Beware of Ultimatums When Negotiating”, Mr. Sturrock cogently states: “It may seem efficient to cut to the chase but it takes two to tango, and most experience and much theory will suggest that you have to leave the other party some scope to come back and feel they also have had an opportunity to trade. Indeed, it is arguably disrespectful not to enable the other to engage in this way.” Pay for my Wall or I say good-bye, is a good way to end a discussion. While the Vice-President calls this a negotiation, I would need to disagree. It is not helpful. Further, as Mr. Sturrock phrases it, it is “disrespectful”. Respect your opponent if you have any hope of getting to Win-Win. “mediate don’t litigate”.