Photo by Diva Plavalaguna

Cooperation and coalitions have tangible benefits for negotiators engaged in diplomatic negotiations.

Take a look at the Vietnam experience, a war that lasted for almost twenty years. The American military and leadership appear to have learned some lessons from their involvement in the Vietnam War. This example demonstrates many different views and opinions of the war in Vietnam. As said, it was one of America’s most prolonged, most controversial conflicts to date. In a war that lasted over a decade, it is no surprise that lessons were learned on all parts. Thus, disagreements and diplomatic negotiations can lead to better results than expected if carefully managed.

In the realm of negotiation, whether rivalries and differences of opinion harm or help teams are critical. Negotiation research reveals team harmony and cohesion and creates more diplomatic talks.

Negotiating Skills and Tactics for Diplomatic Negotiations

The pros and cons of teamwork

When negotiation is a complex set of skills, knowledge, and experience, gathering a team can be a wiser choice than trying to go it alone. Negotiation research supports the idea that teams are more effective than individuals in many situations. Yet, with adequate coordination and planning, groups will likely meet their maximum potential, and the results could be much better.

What determines whether team negotiations are a success or a failure? The level to which teams effectively meet their distinct difficulties with the right strategies depends on how well they control their internal dynamics. Notably, resolving such conflicts can spur better outcomes when groups face disagreements that focus on substantive issues related to the negotiation task, like those about priorities, interests, and goals. By contrast, when conflicts get personal—deteriorating into criticism and bitter denunciations, for example—team performance may suffer.

3 Negotiation Tips for Diplomatic Negotiations

The following three (3) tips can help you foster productive rather than draining conflict within your negotiating team:

1. Seek familiarity, not friendship. Studies show that those team members who had not worked together before could not pool the information essential to solve a problem. On the other hand, teams of people who are familiar with one another efficiently gather information and solve the same problem. Familiarity enables team members to engage and share information in constructive conflict needed to find a solution. This does not mean that teams should be built around tight friendships. On the contrary, because friendship networks somehow spring up based on similar skills and interests, groups of friends may need more diversity of knowledge and experience to tackle a complex negotiation. Thus, the best team may consist of individuals with various skills who had worked together before (and even clashed occasionally) rather than teams of close, like-minded people.

2. Discuss differences in advance. To prevent conflicts among various strong-minded team members from overshadowing group goals. Spend as much time preparing for upcoming talks because the other side will be willing and ready to exploit any chinks in your team’s armor; it is essential to hash out your differences in advance.

You can start by encouraging the team to brainstorm and debate the issues during talks. Spend time discussing goals, the team’s best options to the present agreement, and your reservation point (which is the worst outcome) you, as a team, will accept. 

3. Assign roles and responsibilities. Before negotiating, teams should also discuss taking advantage of members’ different skills. Which member has the best listening skills? This person could be put in charge of watching and reading other team members and reporting his observations to his squad during breaks. Which team member has the most negotiation experience? This person could be appointed the team leader—the chief decision-maker who corrals the rest of the group. Who is the best communicator? The team spokesperson should be a calm, articulate individual willing to follow the leader and the team’s negotiation plan. By dividing up key responsibilities, debating differences of opinion before negotiating, and keeping talks respectful, your team will be in a solid position to capitalize on its differences.

Instilling Deeper Understanding

For there to be a success during diplomatic negotiations, there must be clear goals for all parts included. These negotiations rely upon honesty, trust, and respect for all involved.

Grey Feathers’ book on Actual Operations during the Vietnam War is a good source of getting the actual picture of what happened in those days. Every war has a unique story; there are thousands of other stories within each war story. Daniel Dewald, in his book, shared the story about the 3rd Battalion, 12th Infantry, 4th Division serving in the Republic of South Vietnam from 1967-1970. The story is derived from operation reports, battle scenes, magazine articles, interviews, and experience incurred in battle conditions. The book describes the events and shows how unselfish and brave the unit responded to overcome enemy advances. It also shows the difficulties of decision-making under fire. The pressures of battle forced quick decisions and movements. Each man earned their grey feather, which was a symbol of each being brave in adverse conditions. They all watch each other’s back and ensure that all hostilities are met honorably and with force.

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