The Negotiator Magazine

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“Going Public Can Play Role in Outcome of Negotiations”

Marty Latz

Rarely does a day go by that I don’t read in a newspaper about a high-profile negotiation. Perhaps it is a union picketing when talks break down, or a board of directors trying to fend off an unwanted merger. It might even involve the possible settlement of a lawsuit between prominent companies.

When I read about these, I often consider why the negotiation has “gone public.”

My first thought always is to evaluate who initiated the public coverage of the negotiation. Did a party issue a press release or invite the media to cover the negotiation? Or is the media covering it despite the wishes of the parties, who would prefer to negotiate behind closed doors?

If one of the parties “went public,” then it’s likely that party believes playing it out in public has some benefits. (Of course, the public element simply may be just feeding that party’s ego.)

If it’s strategic, though, what might be the advantages and disadvantages of “going public?”

Consider the following in deciding if and when to “go public” in your negotiations.

1. The decision-maker may be influenced.

In high-profile legal negotiations, especially those involving alleged criminal acts, the party “going public” may be attempting to influence potential jurors — the ultimate decision-makers if the case goes to trial.

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