Rich Paxson

On several occasions, I belonged to our local union chapter’s collective bargaining teams when, from time to time, management and employees resolved disputed, regional office issues by negotiating. When one of these matters reached the bargaining stage, our members always felt wronged and entitled to an apology, yes, but also to specifically enumerated changes in the “conditions of employment.”

Negotiations proceeded through one of two possible approaches: position-based or interests-based. Position-based bargaining pits the parties against each other as opponents where one wins, and the other loses. Position-based bargaining resolves contentious issue elements into offenses, satisfactions, apologies and demanded changes for a future relationship. Position-based bargaining bases outcomes on power and often on duplicity. Issue resolution frequently is tenuous requiring return trips to the bargaining table.

Interest-based negotiations, on the other hand, begin by recognizing that while the parties occupy opposing positions on particular issues, nevertheless if they work at it the parties will discover that they also share common, work-related interests. Negotiations begin by identifying mutual interests, and then the parties base their negotiated agreements on these accepted grounds. Each of the parties must be satisfied with the way any final agreement recognizes and resolves all the significant issues.

Interest-based negotiations require more skill and time than position-based. However, in the long run, they are more efficient because, if the agreement skillfully addresses all aspects of an issue, then negotiations resolve underlying causes, eliminating the need for future time-consuming, return trips to the bargaining table. As illustrated by the passage on the Gibeonites, I would say David favored interest-based negotiating techniques!