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Debate and negotiation are part of our daily lives, says U of M expert David Cram Helwich, not just at the Minnesota State Capitol where legislators and the governor are currently entering the budget negotiation endgame phase.

The outcome of any successful negotiation must provide each party with wins, U of M debate team director says

May 17, 2011

Debate and negotiation are part of our daily lives, not just at the Minnesota State Capitol where legislators and the governor are currently entering the budget negotiation endgame phase. It happens when we’re asking for a raise at work, going back and forth with a car salesperson or planning the family summer vacation. A University of Minnesota communication expert who can provide insight on what makes a good debate and what makes a deal breaker is:

David Cram Helwich, director of debate team, College of Liberal Arts

Cram Helwich says negotiations are most likely to be successful when the parties are able to first outline goals for the outcome of the negotiation that are explicitly based on shared values. “Doing so both establishes the parameters of the discussion and helps build goodwill between the parties,” Cram Helwich says.

Each party in the negotiation needs to be offering concessions that are seen as meaningful by the other parties, Cram Helwich says. In other words, the value of a concession is determined by those with whom you are negotiating, not the party offering a concession.

Most importantly, the outcome of any successful negotiation must provide each party with “wins” that can be sold to their constituencies.

Cram Helwich says negotiations tend to break down when the parties establish “red lines” that they know are absolutely unacceptable to the other parties. In addition, negotiations are likely to fail if the parties do not trust each other.

To interview Cram Helwich, contact Jeff Falk, University News Service, jfalk@umn.edu or (612) 626-1720; or Tessa Eagan, College of Liberal Arts, teagan@umn.edu or (612) 625-3781.

Expert Alert is a service provided by the University News Service. Delivered regularly, Expert Alert is designed to connect university experts to today's breaking news and current events. For an archive and other useful media services, visit www.umn.edu/news. Views expressed by experts do not represent the views of the University of Minnesota.

Tags: College of Liberal Arts

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