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Sir, Clare Foges points out the need for a psychological approach in international negotiations (“Squaring up leaves Putin no way to save face”, Comment, Apr 11). Daniel Finkelstein (Mar 29) also refers to Sun Tzu’s “golden bridge” to provide opponents with dignity in retreat. Should we now be considering the use of psychologically informed mediators to facilitate global negotiations, whether Brexit, Russia or elsewhere?

 

It is acknowledged that mediators can achieve resolutions where negotiations have failed. This is often because negotiators set out their stall of demands, and when these are not met, they return empty-handed, blaming the other side for their intransigence. Mediators can facilitate dialogue where parties no longer communicate effectively; they manage anger and frustration; reframe messages; build “golden bridges”; channel and divert motivations for revenge; and counteract the effect of humiliation. When irritation levels reach explosion point, they can separate parties and shuttle between them, preventing walkouts and strategies that lead to the breakdown of talks.

 

Paul Randolph

Mediation course leader, Regent’s University school of psychology and psychotherapy

 

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