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To Build or Not To Build?

Gaëtan Pellerin
© Scotwork NA

We have barely avoided a second government shutdown in less than three weeks. It was a last-minute behind-the-scenes negotiation that led to the current deal. Then on the heels of signing the bill, President Trump initiated a state of emergency to get the funding he wants to build a wall. Is this all because of a wall? I don’t think so.

Since late last year, the only thing we’ve heard is: “To build or not to build the wall?” That has been the question. However, is that what this fight has been about?

President Trump wants to build a wall to prevent illegal immigrants from crossing the border. That’s his objective, to prevent illegal immigrants on US soil. However, his strategy to achieve his objective is about building a wall. The wall has now become a symbol of his objective which makes for an easy sound bite during his campaign for Presidency. In reality, building the wall is a strategy to achieve his goal.

Many people in business and their personal life, confuse strategy with the objective. They get very attached to their strategy, and they are ready to fight for it, and it becomes very challenging to have them to move away or even to consider moving away from their strategy.  The problem is, what happens if the strategy is flawed or not appropriate? Do you abandon your objective all together? No! If you really care about the objective, you should change the strategy and pursue the objective a different way. How you get to your objective shouldn’t matter!

In this case, we saw both sides enamored with their strategy and they lost focus on their objectives. Both parties dug their position behind a wall (no pun intended), and no one was prepared to move away from their point of view. Often times, ego controls this lack of flexibility.

Everyone lost during this negotiation, especially the Federal employees that didn’t receive their paycheck and had to use their savings, credit, or other means to get by while they waited out this feud.

If you’ve ever been in a similar situation where both parties entrenched themselves into an emotional and non-negotiable position, you know how difficult it can be to unlock the stalemate. If you find yourself in that scenario or heading into a similar situation, my advice is:

  • Know the cost of not reaching a deal, it will help keep things in perspective.
  • Examine your strategy – is it appropriate given the situation? If not, develop a new one.
  • If people are having a hard time seeing anything other than their current view, use hypothetical scenarios to test the other party's interest to develop a solution that would be mutually acceptable.
  • Let go of your ego and consider replacing your chief negotiator by someone that is not as emotionally involved.

Finally, don’t confuse your strategy and your objective, or you might be building a wall.



If you are confused between strategy and objective, call us. We can help you stay focused on what matters most. We can be your advisor, your coach, and your trainer. Whether you bring us in to create your strategy, or help you prepare, or develop your team’s negotiating skills - we can help you win at the negotiating table.

We’ve been consulting and teaching our proven negotiation methodology for over 40 years. We know the process, we can identify the skills required, and we have the techniques to negotiate better deals for you. Call us and let’s discuss what we might be able to do for you.

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