8Out from behind the Shadows

Contributed by Joshua N. Weiss

Many negotiations are genuinely not what they seem to be at the outset of the process. This is particularly the case when there are hidden parties, or influencers, that are operating behind the scenes and are the reason the negotiation is getting stalled. When this happens, it is hard to determine initially that this is the problem because those parties are in the shadows with one party not even knowing they are part of the equation.

Often these behind-the-scenes parties reveal themselves after some time, particularly when a key moment occurs in the negotiation process and their input is needed. That was the situation in the example below, when a shadow party was revealed only after a stalemate that put the process on the verge of collapse.

Background and the Negotiation Challenge

Engineering Experts Inc. (EEI) is an engineering consulting firm that works all over the world on large projects, including water management, transportation, and energy and facilities. They have multiple divisions that address every aspect of the engineering process from design to build and construction to program management. EEI works with many varied entities, including federal and state governments as well as industrial clients.

In this example, EEI was working with a city in the southwestern part of the United States called Amity County (AC). AC was desirous of designing and building a physical-chemical treatment plant for wastewater ...

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