The Puck Stops Here

by Randy Klassen on November 15, 2012

As I’m sitting here writing this, I’m still waiting to see whether or not I’ll be able to watch my favourite hockey players play this season.

There’s been no word lately from the powers that be, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr, head of the NHL Players Association (NHLPA).

Some of you may not care about the lockout and, if you’re just a casual fan, the inability of the two sides to agree may have turned you off hockey for good. However, many of us care very much about having the two sides get together to reach a deal. We just want to watch our team play hockey!

One lesson to learn from the NHL and NHLPA lockout is what not to do in negotiations. Both sides in this dispute came to the negotiating table with strongly held positions and a very determined mindset to not give in.

It’s difficult to tell what’s really going on from media reports, but by all appearances, neither party began negotiations with the goal of reaching a quick agreement. Instead, both sides made proposals they knew the other side was unable to accept or live with.

Making the assumption that this is the path that all negotiations must follow is a recipe for failure. Digging in your heels at the beginning of negotiations usually leads to entrenchment, resentment, and very little movement from the other side.

Avoiding strong positional stances and instead trying to create dialogue about what the root issues are has proven to be a far more successful method of reaching agreement.

Any time you head into negotiations, keep the NHL/NHLPA example in mind. Consider proposals that deal with key or root issues, not ones that only create division.

In the meantime, here’s hoping the NHL and NHLPA’s stubbornness evaporates so the players can play.

As Red Green would say, “Keep your stick on the ice.”


Randy Klassen

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