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IN PRAISE OF WIN-WIN NEGOTIATING

Ed Brodow

A new book on negotiating claims that win-win negotiation can only get you into trouble. People will take advantage of you. It’s a waste of time. I am appalled that readers are exposed to this kind of nonsense, but I can understand why many negotiators are hesitant to try the cooperative approach. Here are their reasons:

  1. They are afraid of being taken advantage of by a ruthless opponent.
  2. They are too lazy to change the way they have always negotiated.
  3. Even if they wanted to, they don’t know how to change bad habits.

The question is: Is win-win worth all the effort? I believe it is. A tragic incident in my hometown, the Monterey Peninsula on the Central California coast, illustrates the superiority of collaboration over confrontation.

Three days ago, Mel Grimes returned to his secluded Carmel Valley home at the end of his workday. The 58-year-old Mr. Grimes was an attorney with an excellent reputation in the local community. As he pulled into his driveway, his progress was impeded by a boulder. That’s right. A boulder. Not a rock, but a BOULDER!

It seems that a disagreement had existed for some time between Mr. Grimes and his next-door neighbor, Jack Kenney, a 72-year-old geologist, over a part of the driveway that both of them shared. Mr. Kenney held the position that a portion of the driveway was his property and that Mr. Grimes had no right to use it. On that afternoon, Mr. Kenney had arranged for a large boulder to be set in place blocking access to Mr. Grimes’ driveway. When Mr. Grimes arrived and saw the boulder, he confronted Mr. Kenney and emotions ran wild.

The police log shows that Mr. Grimes’ wife, Elizabeth, 55, called and requested police assistance in quelling the hostile confrontation. Then, from her kitchen window, she saw Mr. Kenney pull out an automatic pistol and fire it at Mr. Grimes. Mrs. Grimes ran outside to help her husband and was also gunned down by Mr. Kenney. Mr. Grimes was pronounced dead at the scene and Mrs. Grimes died on the way to the hospital.

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March 2007