Respectful Negotiation

A successful negotiation is one in which the parties believe that their views have been listened to and considered in reaching a decision.  Failure to do this leads to resentment and obstructiveness.  If one party tries to bully the others, or treat them with condescension, it may feel that it is winning the argument – but the outcome will not be fully accepted by the others and will probably be sub-optimum for all concerned.

Donald Trump’s trade war with China is popular with his supporters; he and they feel good about his adversarial approach to negotiation.  It is a prime example of a coercive foreign policy (  It is partly counter-productive, however: China has retaliated against each of his tariff increases and both countries’ economies are being damaged.  An Economist article, Weapons of mass disruption, warns of the long-term impact of his increasing use of tariffs to exert pressure:

“This pumped-up vision of a 21st-century superpower may be seductive for some. But it could spark a crisis, and it is eroding America’s most valuable asset—its legitimacy.”

In another recent example, Theresa May’s attempt to bully Parliament over the Brexit negotiations has utterly failed and she has had to resign.  An editorial comment, The Times view on Theresa May’s resignation, included this remark on her negotiating style:

“Having negotiated her Brexit deal, she made little effort to sell it, choosing instead to try to bully Parliament into ratifying the agreement by running down the clock.”

Her failure to negotiate meaningfully with all parties was swiftly and dramatically punished.



This is a current page, from the Patterns of Power Edition 3a book, © PatternsofPower.org, 2020.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition03/6841.htm