"Holding a productive 15-minute conversation with an official requires us to process a vast amount of information and a detailed approach plan."- Kesarev Partner Pavel Melnikov addressing GR-Club at MGIMO
November 25, 2021
Moscow, Russia

During a masterclass for students at the GR-Club of the Moscow State University of International Relations (MGIMO), Kesarev Partner Pavel Melnikov shared his experience and insight into best-practice negotiation with government officials.

In an engagement interaction with the students, Pavel's headline recommendations included the following: *

  • Don't Bargain Over Positions. Focus on basic interests: mutually satisfying options and fair standards typically result in a fair agreement.
  • Separate the people from the problem. Remember to separate the relationship with your interlocutor from the substance and deal directly with his/her challenges.
  • Focus on mutual interests, not positions. For a lasting solution, reconcile interests, not positions.
  • Draw up options for mutual gain. In a complex situation, creative problem-solving is an absolute necessity.
  • Insist on using objective criteria. The more you establish standards of fairness, efficiency, or scientific merit, the more likely you are to produce a final package that is fair and lasting.

"Preparing for a short, 15-minute conversation with a public official usually requires a huge amount of preparation, taking on board a wealth of information and boiling it down to a key set of clear bullet points and a manageable goal for the outcome of the meeting. Having an acceptable is also advisable," said Pavel.

Pavel also shared a helpful check-list on approaching a complex negotiation:

  • Plan to obtain a decision: retain control of the situation by having a flexible negotiation plan;
  • Take time to fully understand your interlocutor's procedure and timeline for taking decisions;
  • Be clear on who the final decision maker is;
  • Reaching a decision:
    ~ agree on a procedure of solving the issue – minimum target.
    ~ agree on the essence and final resolution of the issue – maximum target.
  • Result: ensure you leave the room with a list of clear next steps agreed by both parties.

Following the lecture, students participated in an interactive simulation of a real-life meeting with a public official as representatives of an international taxi operator. The students formed two teams to brainstorm their positions for this meeting and then role-played their negotiations, receiving real-time feedback and advice

Kesarev continues to develop relations with key universities in the countries in which it operates to share knowledge and expertise in building relations with stakeholders and understanding the regulatory environment.
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* the book Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In was used as one of the sources for the approach