Brexit, Mediation and Negotiation

What can Brexit tell us about the respective merits of mediation and negotiation?  That’s what BBC Radio Scotland’s Stephen Jardine invited me and TCM’s David Liddle onto his show to discuss.

I don’t think it will surprise anyone that from the perspective of either negotiation or mediation, the situation screams out “Don’t Do It this Way”.  A slow-motion car crash was David’s description.  A negotiator’s nightmare was mine.

The other non-surprise is the very high level of overlap between the conditions needed for effective mediation and what makes for successful negotiations – a shared understanding of what’s up for debate,  if not respect, then at least an understanding between the parties of their respective positions, and a solution-orientated approach that seeks an outcome everyone can live with.

Stephen made the point that sometimes you surely will reach that “push the chair back from the table and walk away” moment.  I don’t disagree, but it’s more  “kicking the can down the road” than anything else:  the issues in dispute will have to be resolved eventually, and that means dialogue.  The ”winner takes all” scenario is rarely the complete victory (or defeat) that it can appear.

Here’s the session. Click to play.

Stephen Jardine Show, BBC Scotland, 16 Oct. 2019

Photo credit: Sandro Cenni/Unsplash

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