It was during a negotiation round in the nineties – at a time when my reputation was that of a hard bargain – that I first got acquainted with the virtues of the more constructive and collaborative methods of negotiation, as they had been developed at the Harvard Program on Negotiation.

After a successful negotiation round – of which I very frankly felt that it was all the merit of the other party – I revealed, during the closing dinner, my thoughts to the leader of the counterparty’s delegation: I felt that I was getting a lot more than I had expected, but with them not giving in on anything. He promised me to have a “small book” dropped at my hotel the next morning before I would check out, on “how we do things here”.

On my flight home, I read most of “Getting to Yes: negotiating agreement without giving in” by Roger Fisher and William Ury, who, along with Bruce Patton, founded the Harvard Negotiation Project (HNP).
It was a life-changing experience: not only did I start to systematically use their insights in all my future negotiations, but I even used them in conflict avoidance and resolution, with both internal as external parties. This inspired me to later become a mediator myself.

Contrary to being a mediator, where I am a neutral party, I also accompany and/or negotiations, during which I favour one party. Preparing a negotiating strategy with “my” team, conducting “double SWOT’s”; I will strive for long-lasting and mutually beneficial agreements, that at the same time are the best way of avoiding future conflict. Should such conflict arise, the collaborative ways of dealing with it will be embedded in the agreements, and I will assist in the settlement.

Negotiation missions are either on an ad hoc basis, or aimed at structurally empowering teams and organisations through embedding theory and practice of good negotiation by teaching workshops, including roleplays with real life cases.