Negotiation – an art?

I spend much of my working life negotiating. It is an art. And it can be learned.


One of the rules is to work out what is in a deal for the other side. You need to see if you can spot their strengths and weaknesses – before you enter the arena ideally.

I was amused last week to see the story of the Grangemouth Oil Refinery situation. Whichever way you look at this it was a case of really poor negotiating on the part of the Unite Union. In effect they pushed for what they believed was the right deal for their client (the workers) to the extent that they took industrial action – shutting the plant down. What they didn’t spot was that Ineos (the owners) had another option – shutting the whole plant down – with the loss of 800 jobs. And they played that card.

After the event Unite claimed that Ineos had intended to shut the plant down all along (which has now proved not to be quite right).

The whole situation has now been rescued with the workers accepting the deal on the table from Ineos – new terms and conditions in effect.

The lesson here? Learn to see when you have pushed the deal to the limit – then stop pushing!!

Leave a Reply