Learning multi-party negotiation from Vice-President Biden

By — on / Daily, Negotiation Skills

Vice President Joe Biden is the President’s “secret weapon” in the coming budget negotiations, suggests Victoria Pynchon, in a recent post to the blog She Negotiates…and Changes Everything on Forbes.com.  Pynchon argues that despite the fact that Biden is known for his public gaffes, it is his behind-the-scenes negotiation skills that make him a valuable asset in the White House.

As a former Senator, Biden is particularly experienced at working in the “trading zone,” in negotiations, which could, in the current political climate, be one of the most challenging dimensions of the upcoming budget discussions.  Drawing on Professor Lawrence Susskind‘s article “Making the Most of Multiparty Negotiations,” in PON’s Negotiation newsletter, Pynchon describes the trading zone as “that moment when negotiation partners ‘switch (if only briefly) to become collaborative problem solvers.'”

In his article, Susskind reminds negotiators that multi-party negotiations differ significantly from two-party negotiations, and creating a positive “trading zone” can be critical for achieving a successful negotiated outcomes.  Negotiators who listen to and understand each other’s needs, and avoid counter-productive criticism, will be more successful in this space.  It is also important to put forward proposals that offer valuable trade-offs for all sides, and to agree together on procedures for resolving problems.

As Pynchon suggests, Vice-President Biden comes into these negotiations with excellent skills and a wealth of experience. Watching Biden navigate these budget talks will be instructive for anyone interested in multi-party negotiations and effective use of the trading zone.

Read Victoria Pynchon’s blog post.

For more information on Professor Lawrence Susskind, click here.

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