How Do You Build Back Trust at the Bargaining Table?

How Do You Build Back Trust at the Bargaining Table

Having read this article from the Program on Negotiation from the Harvard Law School daily blog entitled “How to Build Trust at the Bargaining Table Using Negotiation Examples of Bargaining Techniques” I want to share this with you and share some ideas.  Trust is one of the key National Speakers Association topics for key note speakers, because it is such an important topic.  Nothing can proceed if trust is lost.  So when it is lost how can it be brought back?   Many times it cannot, but at other times it may be possible.  This article offers some ideas of how to do that.  It is worth the read.

Reading between the lines, note that another member of the team offered to reach out to the other side.  This member really did her homework to understand the interests of the other party and then offered some perks to sweeten the deal.  Think of a break up and what needs to be done to bring the parties back together.  Bringing candy and flowers after things went bad can at least open the door for an interaction when a couple has fallen apart.  An analogy can work in other situations as well.  She also asked a third party to intervene on her behalf.   As a mediator and negotiator she took these three initiatives to try and regain trust.  In this instanced it worked.

Think of a situation where trust has been lost.   It is hard.  It is very hard for you or the other party to reach out to one another directly.  This is where a true neutral mediator or a negotiator for your group can be a real asset.

A year and half ago I was in my first board of directors mediation.   I was brought in to assist a board that had become dysfunctional for several reasons.  After a two hour mediation the board was able to identify, address and resolve the issues, re-establish relationships and move on.   That was a real eye opener for the board and it has brought me work with other boards and other issues business to business, business to government and within businesses related to both mediations and negotiations.  Often the service of a third party that can listen effectively and then offer ideas by asking questions can lead to solutions that are outside the box that can make a real difference.  The key is to find the right party to assist in these situations.  That party must also play their role either as a mediator or a negotiator and not mix the two roles.

About six months ago a colleague of mine that is a business valuer had an issue with her client that was involved with a divorce.  There was such animosity between the parties that she had no idea what to do. At the time, I indicated that I am not involved with family law, but that I could refer her to mediators that specialize in that area.  She doubted her client would consider mediation, but she appreciated the offer. 

At the time I was about six months away from the release of my latest book, Peaceful Resolutions, A 60-step illustrated guide to the art of conflict resolution.   Her comments gave me pause.  What can be done to help someone so filled with hate and distrust to ever see the other party as anything, but evil?  Perhaps in her situation focusing on the children and what is best for the children may help the parties in the divorce to focus on other than the issues that caused the divorce. 

Giving this further thought and conducting additional research, I expanded on the chapter related to the Art of De-escalation.  There is no one size that fits all when it comes to de-escalation, but it begins with self.  It begins with calming one’s self.  Only when one calms one’s self is it possible to look beyond one’s self. 

When one is calm, it is possible to look beyond one’s self and realize that we are all human and we all make mistakes.  It is up to me to decide to forgive someone else.  It is up to me to realize that people are not bad, but people do bad things.  We all do bad things.  Knowing this is it possible to find a creative way to try and overcome the conflict?  There is no one simple easy answer to complex questions, but in my latest book, I believe I have presented a way to overcome conflict.   Unfortunately, complex problems require complex solutions. That is why there are 60 steps and not a simple ten step solution.   However, I do offer an overview from Step 57 in Peaceful Resolutions.  Using the experiences of hostage negotiators, social workers and neuroscientists, there are lessons that can be learned and common threads that can help in these types of situations.  Keep an open mind, and consider this process from step 57 from Peaceful Resolutions.

1.    Define the problem; take on one issue at a time

2.    Listen to understand the emotion and facts associated with the issue

3.    Identify and clarify interests

4.    Generate solutions

5.    Determine the impacts of solutions

6.    Evaluate the impacts of the solutions

7.    Select a solution

8.    Implement the solution or go back to an earlier step

9.    Before implementing the solution consider testing it first

10.  Consider BATNA and WATNA if no solution is found”

BATNA stands for the Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement and WATNA stands for the Worst Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.  You can read more about these in my book, but here is a nice six minute video you may find helpful.

Together we can make this world a better place at work, at home and in our communities. Practice peacemaking in your daily life and help yourself and others to find peaceful resolutions.   It makes life so much better.

Mike is a manager with over 25 years’ experience at all levels of management.  Mike provides services related to negotiation, mediation, and value added services (business valuation reviews, research credit advice, transfer pricing assistance, strategic planning and leadership development) to help clients and boards of directors on a wide variety of issues.  When not serving clients as a consultant or blogging, Mike is an avid writer, speaker and educator.  When not working Mike enjoys family, church, volunteering, and daily yoga, meditation and exercise.

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]