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Some Generalizations from the “Fiscal Cliff” Negotiation

January 3, 2013

Here are a few observations, from my perspective, about the December 2012/January 2013 “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations, which maybe one can generalize as also applicable to many mediated/negotiated settlements:

∙    One side generally has more leverage than the other.

∙    The side with leverage still needs to “give in” to some degree in order for the other side to “save face.”

∙    Each side must give up something to get something.

∙    Neither side gets its ideal outcome but rather an outcome  that both sides sometimes can just barely tolerate, which everybody dislikes to some degree.

∙    Neither side gets what solely works for that side; both sides must share the benefits/burdens in some fashion.

∙    When the benefits are perceived as greater as a result of the negotiated deal than otherwise, the deal will happen.

∙    When the risks of not doing the deal are perceived as greater than making the deal, the deal will happen.

∙    Those individuals who are not participating firsthand in the negotiations and feeling the tug of the exchange may criticize and/or endanger the deal.

∙    It is OK to change course, i.e., to change one’s mind.

∙    Try not to paint yourself into a corner or you may get stuck.

∙    If you can’t do the whole deal, sometimes a partial deal may be better than no deal at all.

∙    There is nothing like a real deadline to make the deal happen.

This is my perception of what occurred in the latest “Fiscal Cliff” negotiations, but I think these generalizations have broader application in the world of mediation.


From → Mediation

One Comment
  1. Jean Wilcox permalink

    David –

    All excellent points (as always). Perhaps not included in this scenario is the “political grandstanding” that our representatives in D.C. are now guilty of as the negotiations play-out in a public arena (whereas mediations are private).

    Keep up the great blogs!

    All the best,

    Jean C. Wilcox, Esq.


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