The spring semester at George Mason University's Scalia Law School began last week, and I am excited to teach my highly engaged students. It's hard to believe that this semester marks the 6th semester I have been teaching at the law school. (I still have exam anxiety dreams from my time at Georgetown University Law Center.) I have devoted the first three classes of my experiential Mediation course to the study and role play of negotiation. Students will soon observe live mediations at Multi-Door Dispute Resolution in D.C. Superior Court, Small Claims Division. Communication and negotiation play a big part in dispute resolution.
Competitive negotiators tend to do whatever it takes to reach their desired agreement – even at the expense of another person or entity. They are results-oriented and focused on achieving short-term goals quickly. Competitive negotiation assumes win/lose.
Adversarial negotiation tactics work through manipulation. These negotiators use a range of pressure tactics to defeat the other side and get what they want.
Cooperative, collaborative or interest-based negotiation involves parties in an effort to jointly meet each others' needs and satisfy interests. The negotiators focus on attacking the problem posed by the negotiations, not each other, and on brainstorming and evaluating solutions together.
Roger Fisher and Bill Ury wrote the best selling Getting To Yes In 1981 which emphasizes these four principles as the core of interest-based or cooperative negotiation:
• Separate the people from the problem
• Focus on interests, not positions
• Invent options for mutual gain
• Insist on objective criteria
Watch this four minute video that demonstrates how principled negotiation (as opposed to competitive or adversarial negotiation) works:
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.