Whether it is a Forest Service range manager, a landlord or a neighbor, chances are there is someone outside your operation with an interest in how you manage your cattle and the land they graze.
Eric Peterson, a natural resource education specialist with the Wyoming Cooperative Extension service, works with ranchers to help them build win-win relationships with federal agencies and other resource-management entities.
In forging these relationships, he stresses four basic principles. First, he says, everyone likes success. But in a relationship between a rancher and, say, a
The second principle is that for a relationship to be durable, it must serve the interests of both parties involved. If the rancher can help build a program that meets the agency’s goals and keeps the employee’s supervisor happy, Peterson calls it a win-win situation.
The third principle he stresses is to focus on interests rather than positions. There are, he says, two basic types of negotiation — positional negotiation and principled negotiation.
In positional negotiating, one or more parties begin with pre-determined positions and are prepared to sell or fight for their own agendas. This typically leads to mistrust and a win-lose situation.
Principled or interest-based negotiation begins with each party communicating his underlying interests — the principles that need to be satisfied for a successful resolution of the problem. This process can identify common ground upon which to build a constructive discussion. A rancher and the Forest Service, for example, might share a common interest in sustainability of the resource. Using that shared interest as a starting point, both parties can work toward win-win solutions.
Peterson outlines four important elements of principled negotiation.
- Separate people from the problem. Focus on attacking the problem rather than each other.
- Focus on interests, not positions.
- Consider a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do.
- Insist that the result be based on some objective standard.