Cover Image
close this bookTraining for Elected Leadership - The Councillor as Negotiator (HABITAT, 1994, 21 p.)
close this folderPart I: Essay - The Councillor as Negotiator
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDefinition
View the documentSummary
View the documentReflection
View the documentConcepts and ideas
View the documentWin-win negotiating
View the documentAn enlightened view
View the documentReflection
View the documentWhy is negotiating important in local government?
View the documentRespect cultural differences
View the documentReflection
View the documentHow to negotiate more successfully
View the documentPrincipal negotiations
View the documentWhat do you REALLY want?
View the documentDon't announce positions but know what they are
View the documentNegotiation skills: one of the councillor's best friends
View the documentKey points
View the documentReferences

Win-win negotiating

We suspect you have had experiences in negotiating win-win solutions but may not have thought about them in these terms. To help clarify this concept, here is be an example of a win-win situation.

Suppose your urban council wants to open a sanitary landfill operation to dispose of solid waste but it has no land available within the city limits. This means you must go outside the city to find a location but you are aware that the surrounds rural townships are opposed to taking someone else's garbage! However, you are also aware that the citizens in one of the townships have been petitioning their council better refuse service. The township government has no organized refuse collection a this time nor the technical staff to develop options for the council's consideration. To city engineer has informed you and other councillors informally that one of the three sites he will be recommending for the landfill operation is located in that township. To make a long story short, you and your colleagues on the council have been able to acquire the site in exchange for expanding your refuse collection service into the township. Both sides agreed on standards for operating the landfill. These helped overcome the citizen objections to its location, and they, in turn, received service from the city that the township government was not prepared to make available at this time.

This all sounds very open and amiable. In reality, there are some complications that make it a battle of wits as well as a process of discovery. What each side is attempting to accomplish is to control the amount of information it must disclose to get concessions from the other side. The careful management of information helps negotiators vary the value of those “goods” that are on the table. Goods, in these situations, can be anything that one side is willing to bargain away to get something the other side has. It could be real goods or money. It could be access to information or increased power of one kind or another. It could be tranquility, freedom to operate more independently, or just about anything else that has value because someone wants it.

Much of the negotiator's success depends on his or her ability to create illusions about what is valued, and for how much. Otherwise, one could argue that anyone who can assess the real worth of any good could create an enormous matrix perfectly balanced alternatives from which representatives of the competing parties could choose. But, that's not the way it works. Those who take the negotiation process seriously recognize the power inherent in the ability to shift the other party from its original position toward one that is more favourable to its own. In this respect, negotiation is, or can be, a learned process.