Happy 2019! I'm back to teaching Mediation at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School for the Spring semester after teaching Alternative Dispute Resolution in the Fall. In class on Wednesday I'll be talking about interest-based negotiation and William Ury, one of the world's leading experts on negotiation and mediation.
Ury is co-founder of the Harvard Program on Negotiation and author, along with Roger Fisher, of Getting to Yes, as well as numerous other publications. Ury talks about how to build a golden bridge in the video clip below.
Ury says that the phrase “golden bridge” comes from a Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, who twenty-five hundred years ago wrote a book called The Art of War and talked about building your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across. Ury says that "In negotiation I would reframe that positively as a golden bridge for both of you to advance across." In the clip, Ury talks about how Steven Spielberg built a golden bridge during his high school years with a bully who was tormenting him.
Ury says that "you may be tempted to push—to cajole, to insist, and to apply pressure. But pushing may actually make it more difficult for the other side to agree. It underscores the fact that the proposal is your idea, not theirs. It fails to address their unmet interests. It makes it harder for them to go along without appearing to be giving in to your pressure. And it makes the prospect of agreement seem, if anything, more overwhelming."
"Instead of pushing the other side toward an agreement, you need to do the opposite. You need to draw them in the direction you want them to move. Your job is to build a golden bridge across the chasm. You need to reframe a retreat from their position as an advance toward a better solution."
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.