Thoughts about ‘Building Negotiation Skills’

UN Negotiations = hard work for humanity - photo source:

UN Negotiations = hard work for humanity – photo source:

Following the theme of transparency that this blog is built on, here is a short reflection piece about a workshop I experienced the other day – I am studying Leadership for Sustainability at the United Nations University. 

‘Taking on negotiations in the United Nations can be challenging as much as it is rewarding’, was a key message Jimena Levia Roesch and Wu Ye-Min conveyed in the ‘building negotiation skills’ training workshop. The workshop was engaging, inspiring and empowering and provided me with an entre` experience to “weave together” Integral Theory (Esbjorn-Hargens, 2009) to ground truth what is needed in real-life negotiations that impact international interests that are close to my heart – for instance, coastal management.

It was insightful for the experiential learning experience to begin with identifying our own ideas about what we thought were key skills needed to be an effective negotiator and then on close reflect on our initial thoughts. In reflection, my initial thoughts were active-language, balance and challenge, which evolved to integrate tactics, meaningful-relationships and credibility.

The workshop provided me the opportunity to build on my own experiences and ‘expertise’ in stakeholder engagement to galvanise key relationships with opposing delegates – in the classroom, corridor and outside. This enabled me to access key information I needed to ensure tasks were successfully achieved (e.g. for the conference to be delayed to 2021) and support my member group’s goals with integrity, which is a key attribute of a leader and negotiator.

To achieve the successful negotiation the process involved integrating Integral Theory with the workshop experience. This enabled me to view the workshop through the various lenses of intentional, behavioural, cultural and social perspectives, which are based on the theory of irreducible perspectives to shift focus away from complex viewpoints. By applying Integral Theory, I was able to simplify observations to achieve action-based solutions.

Integral Theory also allowed me to practice collective leadership where I was able to support my member group during negotiations when either the Chair was not present or when the other member was in a close-door discussion. As a result, the member group I was part of was able to fulfill the multi-lateral negotiation ethically, while support other non-member groups, catalyse concise language and act with transparency.

In conclusion, Roesch and Wu’s enthusiasm to share the various tricks of the trade has empowered me to act on my passion in coastal management, in particular, act on the findings concluded the UNEP Global Environmental Alert Service report about sand and gravel mining and its impact on coastlines around the world (UNEP-GEAS, 2014). I hope to connect with the UNEP GEAS to voice my perspective and help negotiate the needs of coastal management from the many viewpoints I am now aware of to achieve action-based solutions for the coast.


Esbjorn-Hargens, S. (2009) An Overview of Integral Theory: An All-Inclusive Framework for the 21st Century, Integral Institute, Resource Paper No. 1, pp: 1-24.

UN Environmental Programme: Global Environmental Alert Service, Sand is rarer than one thinks report, (March 2014).