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Published: Oct 19 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

An interesting take on ‘bridging the gap’ came to my attention this week. The story has to be told anonymously because of client confidentiality, but the essence was a dispute over the amount of a pay-out between an insurance syndicate and a business…

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Published: Sep 14 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

At about the same time as this blog is being published we are hosting a webinar entitled ‘Negotiating in Uncertain Times’. If you missed it, a recording is available here. During the sign-up process we asked participants if uncertainty was affecting their business. Most of the audience didn’t comment; I suppose their interest in attending the webinar with its very transparent title was evidence enough of the problem. Those who did comment made some interesting observations. The most common sentiment was that ‘business unusual is the new normal’,...

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Published: Jul 20 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

Theresa May’s speech on Tuesday last week urging her political enemies to ‘contribute and not just criticize was met by a barrage of exactly the criticism she was asking them to eliminate. A Labor spokesperson said that it showed that the Conservatives had completely run out of ideas and were now reduced to begging, and the Scottish Nationalists line was that if she was serious about collaboration, particularly on Brexit, then she should have offered the SNP a seat at the Brexit negotiations, as they have been demanding for the last year.

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Published: Jun 29 , 2017
Author: Sebastian Bacewicz

When is a ‘generous offer’ not a generous offer? A few answers spring immediately to mind: for example, when a better offer is already on the table (yet - worryingly - completely ignored), or when the proposer feels the need to tell you that their offer is, indeed, very generous. I mean, if the offer is truly generous, why the need to tell you so? Surely, it will be clear for all to see? One may also argue that the "generous offer" is not really generous when it concerns the lives of a few million people and falls significantly short of what is expected both by the other side and the people in question.

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Published: Apr 20 , 2017
Author: Alan Smith

Tommy Cooper was one of the funniest comedians ever. How do I know? Well partly because he has 13 of the best jokes in the top 50 gags of all time. A personal favourite being, “heard the one about two aerials meeting on a roof, falling in love, and getting married? The ceremony was rubbish but the reception was brilliant”. Telling a good joke is not just about the content. It is also in the timing of the delivery. The same could also be said about negotiation. Picking your time to enter into a negotiation can have a significant impact on its progression and your outcome.

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Published: Apr 06 , 2017
Author: Robin Copland

I suspect that the Brexit negotiations will provide a fruitful source of negotiating stories over the next two or three years (longer – much longer, if you believe some commentators), so I apologize in advance to our many overseas readers. It is instructive and, dare I say, amusing to watch people • Who really do not know what a negotiation actually is • Who have no experience of sitting in a room with a hard-nosed negotiator on the other side of the table and what it feels like make unguarded comments that sound good in a sound bite.

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Published: Mar 30 , 2017
Author: Robin Copland

So what exactly happened yesterday in the House of Commons during the Prime Minister’s Brexit statement to the House of Commons on 29 March? People have either congratulated Theresa May or derided her along predictable lines, but I maintain that what was actually happening was that the UK delivered its opening statement for the upcoming and tortuous two-year negotiation with the EU. Forget the 9 months leading up to this opening statement. Forget the salvoes and the posturing. Forget the talk about “hard Brexit” and partnerships and access to the open market. Forget them all. Yesterday in parliament is where the negotiation proper started. The prime minister stood at the dispatch box and laid out the UK’s position. She outlined her long-term aims for the negotiations - the targets towards which she expects her negotiating teams to aim.

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Published: Mar 16 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

Dear Donald I am writing because you might have seen some scurrilous press speculation that the UK has decided to leave the European Union. FAKE NEWS!! The truth is that we have had a referendum and some subsequent discussions in Parliament which overwhelmingly demonstrated with certainty that the country is split as to whether to stay or go. 52% of the population want to leave, 48% want to stay, and 93% are undecided. Because this gives me a clear choice of mandates I am advising you that this letter is intended to trigger Article 50, which apparently enables us to leave unless we change our minds because we can’t agree a deal, or we agree a deal we don’t agree with, or because you have changed the constitution of the EU in the meantime.

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Published: Jan 26 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

There has been much talk over the last few weeks about what might happen if, at the end of 2 years of negotiation with the EU after Article 50 is triggered, no deal is agreed. ‘Cliff edge’ refers to this doomsday situation where the UK is out of Europe and not in anything except trouble. Hence the focus on transitional arrangements which Mrs May said she didn’t/did want within the same paragraph of her speech last week – see the previous Scotwork blog for this and other peculiarities in that speech.

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Published: Jan 05 , 2017
Author: Stephen White

Like the conference speaker who has the misfortune to be given the slot immediately after a brilliant raconteur, 2017 is unlikely to be a ‘wow’ year, following on as it does from a humdinger 2016. Unlikely, but not impossible, and it certainly got off to a great start with the unexpected resignation of the UK’s Permanent Representative to the EU Sir Ivan Rogers, an event which would probably have been called PRexit if it wasn’t so easy to mishear. Not only did he surprise everyone with his impeccable timing - the first Brexit bombshell of the year – but in his swan song note to colleagues he laid into the Government for its appalling state of Brexit preparation

Published: Oct 27 , 2016
Author: Alan Smith

What do Joni Mitchell and Boris Johnston have in common? Well very little I suspect, but they do both share an interesting way of looking at issues before finally making up their minds. “Both Sides Now” is one of Joni Mitchells most famous songs and appeared on her 1969 Album, Clouds. She says that she has investigated life, love and clouds from both sides, the inspiration being that she was on a transatlantic flight and looked down on the clouds rather than the more customary up. Boris Johnson was quoted in the press this weekend of having a similar way of making up his mind when considering his view of whether to support Britain’s In or Out vote over the now decided Brexit.

Published: Oct 20 , 2016
Author: Robin Copland

This isn’t going to be popular; to write it – even to think it - sticks in my throat as it offends against my innate sense of fair play and good will to all people, but there really are times when I want to take our elected representatives to one side and slap them about the face. They pontificate and they grandstand; they puff themselves up into rice krispies of righteous indignation; they adopt their “holier than thou” positions; they occasionally demonstrate a frightening lack of common sense and commercial nous and, at the same time, they would have us weaken our position in future negotiations.

Published: Oct 14 , 2016
Author: Robin Copland

What do Ben & Jerry's ice cream, Pot Noodles, Persil, Dove soap and Marmite have in common? They are all made by Unilever. What does Unilever and Tesco have in common? Dave Lewis, Tesco’s current boss, spent most of his career at Unilever before being poached by Tesco. What does all of this have to do with negotiating? Well, having been in a stand-off that threatened to damage both parties, heads were banged together on Thursday 13 October and a deal was done. We at Scotwork have constantly maintained that external factors are the most common cause of the kinds of conflicts that need negotiated solutions and what happened between Tesco and Unilever is a classic example.

Published: Jul 14 , 2016
Author: Robin Copland

You really couldn’t make this up. Prior to the recent Brexit referendum, there was a negotiation between David Cameron, the UK prime minister and Jean-Claude Juncker, the former Luxembourg prime minister and current commissioner of the European Union.

Published: Jul 07 , 2016
Author: Alan Smith

The hunt for negotiators has begun on a Global scale. Offers of help from all over the place, New Zealand, Australia and no doubt every part of the Commonwealth and beyond to help the UK deal with the inevitable day to day transactional not to mention the framing and strategic negotiations that will result from the Brexit.

Published: Jun 30 , 2016
Author: Stephen White

So what are you doing about Brexit’ demanded my 90-year-old Mum. ‘Why should I be doing anything about it?’ I asked. ‘Because every other sentence on the news channels since Friday morning has contained the word Negotiation’ she said. Point taken.

Published: May 19 , 2016
Author: Alan Smith

Walk out the door? Maybe not quite as easy as you may think. The challenge for anyone in a long term relationship, business or pleasure, and particularly one experiencing difficulty is: do I invest in trying to fix it or cut my losses?

Published: Feb 25 , 2016
Author: Stephen White

We have a problem with my mother. She is a gregarious 90 year old, has successfully lived on her own since my Dad died 10 years ago, she is full of life and bright as a button, lots of friends, goes out to play cards five times a week. Until three weeks ago.

Published: Oct 22 , 2015
Author: David Bannister

Daniel Hannan is a British Member of the European Parliament (MEP), an institution for which he seems to have little warmth (as do quite a number of other British MEPs). The UK has announced its intention to renegotiate the terms of its membership of the European Union (EU) and to put the issue to a referendum in the next couple of years. The tactics of all of this are of more than passing interest to a negotiator. So far, our Prime Minister, David Cameron, has made only relatively vague references to what issues will be on the agenda when he negotiates with his fellow leaders, some of whom have wasted no time to tell Cameron what they think will not be on the agenda. Those of us interested in the negotiating tactics might conclude (as I do) that not saying what you want is not a great starting point on the journey to getting what you want.

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This blog is a tribute to Orri Vigfússon, founder and Chairman of North Atlantic Salmon Fund (NASF), who sadly passed away in July. A champion and defender of the ‘King of Fish’, Orri was a visionary and selfless hero who dedicated his life and considerable…

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