Negotiating Two Steps Ahead of the ‘Fiscal Cliff’

By on / Conflict Resolution

Program on Negotiation and Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra recently sat down with CNBC to discuss the fiscal cliff and how Democrats and Republicans can not only complete their current negotiation successfully, but also their future negotiations.

Malhotra stresses that when you begin a negotiation, the smart negotiator is two steps ahead, planning out their negotiation and all of its various outcomes before even coming to the bargaining table.

Successful negotiation depends not only on knowing what you need to achieve at the bargaining table, but also how the results of agreement or non-agreement will play out in the future. Malhotra says, without that kind of analysis, “You’re not going to pick the right strategy up front.”

While the negotiations between President Obama and the Republicans are playing out in a very public forum, both sides need to allow themselves space for compromise behind closed doors.

Hard stances in public and the need to shore up support with the party base is understandable, but also laden with inherent dangers if either side paints themselves too securely into a corner where compromise becomes difficult if not impossible.  Professor Malhotra sees it as being in the interests of both parties to come to a negotiated agreement now rather than later, especially given the many issues with which the President and the legislative branch will have to grapple in the near future.

“You have got to remember in negotiation you winning does not mean them losing.”

To view the CNBC interview, please click here.


In our FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School – The New Conflict Management: Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies to Avoid Litigation – renowned negotiation experts uncover unconventional approaches to conflict management that can turn adversaries into partners.


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