“Bad Negotiators”: Congress Gets It Wrong, Experts Say

Negotiations have been lurching along as Congress tries to end the government shutdown its own inaction wrought, but when it comes to all that bargaining, are lawmakers doing it right? "Right now, they’re really reflecting what bad negotiators do, based on decades of research," negotiating expert Michele Gelfand told NBC News. Research suggests negotiators are heavily influenced by the degree to which they view problems as "win-lose" situations, Gelfand says, a factor that so far is seriously interfering with a fiscal deal. That's because a common negotiating error is assuming that if one side wins, the other automatically loses — the so-called "fixed-pie" assumption — though that's often not the case. Assuming it is can lead to bad deals or stalemates. "With the fixed-pie bias, it’s possible to reach an agreement, and a compromise in which neither party bests the other, but there’s usually a real power struggle before you reach that point," another expert said.

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