On the 13th of November, we gave a workshop to the KULMUN members. It is a great opportunity to learn from each other and to improve our reach. Now, to outsiders it may look like the specializations of our associations are fairly similar. However, discussion and negotiation are two separate skills although complementary.
When thinking about politics, the difference between a discussion and a negotiation can be very unclear. If we take the example of a Brexit, it feels like a discussion. Different parties are involved, all with their own opinion. They try to convince the other parties of their idea. But what is the end goal? Generally, an agreement is ought to be reached, although some parties might be left unsatisfied.
But is the Brexit a discussion or a negotiation? If we take a closer look the definitions, Oxford Dictionary tells us that negotiation is a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement. To put this simply, when the conversation focusses on the idea of a Brexit, it is a discussion. When the parties try to make it happen, it is a negotiation.
Now, the definition makes it seem as a discussion can flow into a negotiation, as the agreement can be a result. However, we -at the LCM Student association- believe that the strategy towards a negotiation should be very different.
About 150 years ago, an officer in the U.S. Army named Henry Martyn Robert wrote these guidelines. The intention was to make a clear way to structure any kind of meeting. Each party will try to win as much as possible. To this day, most discussions are held under Robert’s Rules, while one of our books to base our research on is “Breaking Robert’s Rules” by Lawrence E. Susskind and Jeffrey L. Cruikshank.
The main difference in approach concerns the goal of each party. In the latter, the parties work together to make an effective and efficient decision. At the LCM Student Association, we have adopted this mindset of creating value and reaching a win-win.
This makes the collaboration between LCM SA and KULMUN so interesting. We have to remind ourselves that our different approach is towards a different cause. During this workshop, we thought a strong theoretical basis of negotiation, discussed many examples and closed off with a case. It was a learning experience for all involved and we enjoyed it!