Negotiating With the Public in Mind Thesis

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The author of this brief report has been asked to select a chapter out of the Saner book that relates to negotiating. After selection of this chapter, the book snippet will be reviewed from a critical standpoint and then will be applied to real-world situations. Upon the completion of this part of the assignment, the thesis offered by the author of this report will be supported and the main points of the chapter will be driven home. All of this will be supported by scholarly sources other than Saner himself. While there are always interest parties when it comes to negotiations, the introduction, either directly or indirectly, of the public and their interests can greatly complicate negotiations between two or more parties and it can be used as a wedge by either side of the agreement.

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Thesis on Negotiating With the Public in Mind Assignment

Negotiations between two parties can be fairly simple. It can also be fairly to very complicated. Of course, it depends on the situation involved, the needs or requirements of both parties and what is generally at stake. However, who is involved from an impact, stakeholder or investment standpoint also matters greatly and when the public is one of those parties, things can get messy. Of course, negotiating over who will build a highway and at what cost can be fairly simple but one can back up the processed a bit to a more basic level and look at what the "public" really wants in the first place. Of course, that is a very fickle thing as the public is a bunch of people and what each person wants is obviously going to vary. This is why there are elections and the "will of the people" from the same are often the basis for the negotiations that follow. However, while the main focus of this analysis as it pertains to Saner centers on the tenth chapter, that being about interest groups and the public, there can also be a looping in of the sixth chapter (tactics), needs and motivation (the third chapter) and a few others. While some of the needs of the public and the associated negotiations could and should be fairly straightforward, the introduction of interest groups and the public makes it all the more complicated and in a few different ways (Saner, 2005).

For example, if there is a union associated with a public agency and their contract is up, it could be fairly straightforward to get a new collective bargaining agreement or it could be very dicey. It all depends on what the union thinks they should get and what the public officials are willing to offer. Those two positions may be close together or they may be far apart. Regardless, a variable that cannot be ignored in any scenario like this is that taxpayer money is funding some or all of the activities that will be regulated as part of the ensuing agreement and this is a major point of contention between the two groups. However, there are other interest groups that are more centered on what the workers are "entitled" to and what their "rights" are. This may or may not be palpable or acceptable to the budget constraints that exist, at least in the estimation of the public officials who are negotiating with the union (Fowles & Cowen, 2015).

A more basic example of publicly-oriented negotiations and the interest groups that buzz around the same would be the back and forth that goes on every day right now with the Republicans and Democrats. There is a huge back and forth regarding what the will of the people is, what is "American" and what is "un-American" and so forth. Just as one example, Democrats commonly tout government-ran healthcare for all while Republicans are often concerned about border security and gun rights. Regardless of what the public mood seems to be on a subject, the two negotiating sides (the two political parties) will tend to select data and points that suit their interests even if they are cherry-picking those items as they do so. Indeed, the member of a party can seize on one election result, one event, one poll or some other happening and use that as a basis for making a negotiating ploy even if the ice on which that point stands is razor-thin.

Interest groups make things even more chaotic as they will often have points and positions that are very entrenched and defined and those groups will push those interest irrespective of the ostensible interest or lack of interest that the public might have. Further, those interest groups will try to rally up support against a "mutual foe" or with someone that is ostensibly like-minded. The current hullabaloo about bathrooms and which bathrooms people of the transgender community should use is just one topic and it is an easy one that helps define the problem. People that are in favor of people using the bathroom of their gender identity will often (but not always) assail opponents of this policy as homophobic, bigoted and "backwards." The opposite side will come out firmly against firms and parties that are "for" the policy. Target, the retailer, has come out in favor of the former position named above and there has been a major petition and other vitriolic reactions to this from some corners of the public. Obviously, such public-oriented policy decisions can lead to some very nasty exchanges and even nastier accusations such as those of bigotry and general acts of animus or even hatred from either side. Perhaps it is perception on the part of the author of this report but things seem to be getting more and more advanced in terms of tone and the stakes involved and the candidates in the Presidential election and their associated histories and backstories just makes things even more complicated and chaos-ridden (Kmietowicz, 2010).

To come back to the thesis and to make a salient point about all of this, one has to define what "successful negotiation skills" happen to be. When it comes to public agencies, the public's will and status as stakeholders and what the best path forward is, it really is about ensuring that everyone wins as much as is possible and that any negative feelings are avoided as much as is possible. For example, one might suggest that single-use gender-neutral bathrooms are a good way to diffuse the bathroom dilemma since only one person can use one at a time and thus multiple people being in those bathrooms is removed as a source of friction. When it comes to other public matters such as the budget, a leader from one party can say that there are things that both sides and both sides of the political spectrum want. Therefore, it would be prudent to have a compromise where each side gets important things that they want but both sides table things they want that are of lesser importance so that a compromise can be reached (Ogborn, 1992).

If there are some main points that can be garnered from the above and from the general discussion about negotiating and doing so when the interest and attention of the public is involved, it would be as follows:

When the public's money is involved, that matters a great deal. Some people might want to push that aside as a point of contention or discussion but it cannot be ignored. While teachers, administrators and other public workers should obviously be paid a fair salary and set of benefits, it has to be remembered that pushing for anything above and beyond what that same person would get from the private sector is probably a bridge too far. This often gets lost in the rhetoric and back and forth of public-related negotiations but it actually cannot be forgotten.

The nastiness and vitriol that often surfaces, mostly from outside parties, needs to stop. The people involved in these negotiations are supposedly adults and it needs to show. This means no demagoguery, no character assassination and a bridge being built towards a plan and outcome that works as much as is possible for everyone involved. Anyone that results to negative tactics is not helping the process and really should not be involved because it just protracts the struggle and makes things worse for everyone.

Interest groups that their interests and to say that they should be precluded from the negotiating and jockeying process is not really fair. However, it also has to be remembered that these interest groups commonly represent very specific and sometimes out-of-the-norm positions. For example, there are groups in the public and lobbying sphere that are for "abortion on demand" while there are others that are against any form of abortion. Of course, public polls reveal that just about everyone has a position on the matter that is somewhere in between those extremes. Beyond that. Roe v. Wade has made it clear that abortion is legal and that shall remain the case unless or until it is overridden. That should… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Style

Negotiating With the Public in Mind.  (2016, June 11).  Retrieved September 19, 2020, from

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"Negotiating With the Public in Mind."  June 11, 2016.  Accessed September 19, 2020.