Course on negotiation techniques
the escalation of conflict
IE Business School
Sessions 5 & 6
• One of the causes leading to a conflict escalation
or a breakdown is the appearance of a deadlock.
• A deadlock has two consequences:
– The apparent impossibility for progress.
– An increase in the emotional component.
The negotiation deadlock (I)
The negotiation deadlock (II)
• How to handle a deadlock:
– Suspend the negotiation rather than let it
– Put the conflictive question to one side and
– If the cause is emotional: cool down the process.
– Involve a mediator.
– Change the negotiators.
– Safeguard the reputation and prestige of the
The escalation of conflict
Movie scene: Intorelable Cruelty (2003)
The escalation of conflict
Our behavior is governed by our attitudes and
PERCEPTION: Belief, way of seeing the
person, object or situation.
ATTITUDE: Positive or negative feeling
towards a person, object or situation.
The dynamics of the conflict
① Trapped by the investment made/decision taken.
② Negative expectations regarding the opponent's
③ Incremental transformations.
• Commitment to a course of action taken: The
• Belief in the proximity of the objective.
• Cost associated with the abandonment of
• The trap of confirmation.
① Trapped by the investment made
• Initially negative attitude towards the other party.
• A distorted evaluation of his/her behavior.
• Selecting the evidence that confirms our
• We do not value his/her concessions and we
② Negative expectations
• From a friendly attitude to one of aggression: From
disagreement to antagonism.
• From personal benefit to the loss of the rival.
• From interests to positions.
③ Incremental transformation
Harborco: Negotiation Parties
• Representative of Harborco
• Environmental League
• Labor Unions
• Other Ports
• Federal Department of Coastal Resources
• Governor Sherwood (of Seaborne)
Harborco: The Issues
Compensation to other ports
Harborco: Situation & Procedure
• Harborco needs a license for the port (FLA)
• Harborco has already submitted a proposal but can
be modified at any time
• Harborco needs the support of at least four other
parties (five with Harborco) to any proposal to secure
the license. FDCR has a veto right.
• Formal voting rounds (3) are recommended.
Timing: Reading 15 min. & Negotiating 70 min.
Harborco: organizing the process
You are at the beginning.
You have not had any contact yet.
• Are all the relevant parties at the negotiation table?
• How do you think each one of them would react?
• Whom do you approach first? And then?
• What issues do you address with each party?
• How do you handle the process. Bilaterally?
• Look for issues of unequal importance to the players.
• Need to get interests on the table.
Ask lots of open Q’s—what do you care most about? Could
you live with X?
Signal your own key issues.
• Listening is important. Use of silence.
Good negotiators are unlikely to be completely transparent—
particularly if trying to block a deal.
Harborco: Take Aways (I)
• Process matters.
‘stickiness’ of status quo or “the way we do things here…”
• Coalition dynamics.
Figure out who else has compatible interests.
Recognize inherent instability of coalitions.
Prisoner’s dilemma for blocking coalition: first to ‘defect’ gets carrot,
other gets sticks.
• Pay attention to clock.
optimizing vs. satisficing.
Harborco: Take Aways (II)