Some negotiations are simply too difficult and complicated to solve traditionally. If the negotiations you’re involved with have come to a stalemate, the “indaba” technique makes it easier for all parties to find common ground and resolve things fairly.
Photo by Jay Reed.
When the traditional back-and-forth of negotiation has come to a grinding halt, it might be better for all parties to reveal their hand and see if and how the game can continue. Akshat Rathi at Quartz explains a technique the Zulu and Xhosa people of southern Africa use called an “indaba” (pronounced In-Dar-Bah):
An indaba is designed to allow every party to voice its opinion, but still arrive at a consensus quickly. It works because opinions and arguments can only be aired in a particular way… Instead of repeating stated positions, each party is encouraged to speak personally and state their “red lines,” which are thresholds that they don’t want to cross. But while telling others their hard limits, they are also asked to provide solutions to find a common ground.
According to Rathi, this technique was recently used to bring 195 countries of the United Nations to consensus for the first time ever during a climate-change summit in Paris. Finding commonalities is always a beneficial approach to negotiation, but the indaba technique manages to make reaching consensus fair for all parties involved. When you know someone’s bottom line, and they know yours, bridging the gap is much easier. After all, you can’t build a bridge unless you can see both sides.