February 2018 Federal Employment Law Training Group Newsletter

So, what did you think about the recent negotiations on Capitol Hill, the ones that led to the recent government shutdown(s)? I hope you didn’t take notes and plan to use the tactics you saw the next time you are trying to negotiate a settlement, or a Last Chance Agreement, or a collective bargaining agreement. Both during and after the bargaining, the negotiators engaged in name calling and gloating. “I hope they see the mistake they made.” “They finally came to their senses.” “What were they thinking? They got nothing.” Several members of Congress and the Senate could be seen on television posturing for their side in the bargaining, taking the position that “We were right and those idiots over there are idiots.” Folks, if you’re in the business of federal employment law, please appreciate that stuff like we saw on FoxNews and CNN is politics; it is not intended to be a lesson in effective negotiation. If you and I negotiate a resolution to a mutual problem, and later I hear you telling people how foolish I was and how smart you were to force me into a one-sided resolution favorable to your side, how do you think I’m going to react the next time we sit down and you suggest we work together on a new issue? We saw too many leaders after the negotiations saying politically, “Those guys were stupid; we won!” As we teach in our negotiations classes, the more productive approach would have been to say something like, “Both sides had strong feelings. There was a lot of productive discussion and compromise. We congratulate our counterparts and thank them for their hard work and flexibility.” Because, my friends, civil service negotiations are not politics nor are they divorce court; they are like marriage counseling in which the long term is more important than the immediate feel-good gain. Come to our seminars and learn how to negotiate like a pro, not like a politician.

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