Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Here is how one high stakes negotiation is currently playing out: First a recap. On February 13, 2016, Justice Scalia’s unexpected death created a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Within less than a day, leading Senate Republicans made a pre-emptive opening demand, announcing that they would refuse to consider, even to hold hearings for, any nominee the president proposed.  Next, President Obama announced that he would proceed in the normal course anyway, and he also invited the opposition to the White House, where they meet in the Oval Office on March 1, 2016. Presumably the parties gauged each other’s resolve, presented their respective best alternatives to a negotiated outcome of the dispute, perhaps suggested some ways of reaching a resolution. […]

Nobody should be surprised that the “fiscal cliff” negotiations are going down to the wire, and perhaps beyond it. Republicans and Democrats have been fighting tooth and nail over these budget issues for years now, and nobody is about to concede gracefully to the other side. Only when both sides are absolutely sure that the deal on the table is the only deal available, and that the deal is better than the alternative–an unpleasant package of tax hikes and budget cuts that will take effect automatically in January–is there a possibility that both sides will accept the deal. In this situation, the deadline itself might be the only thing that will force the parties to make a deal, which means […]

The United States Senate is a good example of a place of endless negotiations, sometimes resulting in agreement and sometimes not.  Updating my post below on the ongoing Senate negotiations over the financial regulation bill, we are still in the process of  finding out what happens when a deadline passes but no agreement is reached.  Majority Leader Harry Reid announced last week a firm date and time (Monday at 5:00 p.m.) for a vote regardless of whether or not the parties had a deal on the text of the proposed bill.  True to his word, he called for a vote, and true to their word, all of the Republican Senators (and one Democrat) voted to deny allowing the bill to […]

While most of us will be free to pursue family and other activities this weekend, it looks like Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby will be spending the weekend trying to hammer out an agreement between Republicans and Democrats on new financial regulation legislation.  That is because Majority Leader Harry Reid set a vote for 5:00 p.m. on Monday on the Dodd bill.  Republicans have threatened to prevent debate on the bill by unanimously voting against cloture.  So by setting the time for a vote, Reid is forcing one of three possible outcomes.  Either a deal is struck and a number of Republican Senators will then allow the bill to come up for a vote.  Or no deal is made […]

Settlement offers as well as demands frequently carry a time limit: For example, “If not accepted, this offer will expire at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday,” or “If we cannot resolve this matter to our client’s satisfaction within 10 business days, we will take all appropriate steps, including filing suit against your client.” Why do people, including myself, include these deadlines? Everyone knows we may be bluffing, because we would generally still prefer to settle on the same offered terms the day after, or even the month after, the offer expires. If the settlement demand or offer were not a more attractive alternative than a failure to reach agreement, we would not have made the demand or offer in the first […]