I had the good fortune to attend an inspiring talk by Israeli negotiator, Moty Cristal, at the ABA dispute resolution conference in Washington. A veteran of many of the toughest negotiations in the Middle East, he affirmed many of the key messages about negotiation as he spoke of moving beyond traditional boundaries - effective communication, moving from positions to interests, analysing and developing alternatives, brainstorming options. He described how things changed post 9-11, from the power of language to the language of power.

His central theme was how it is possible to negotiate even when there is no or low trust. You just have to deal with it as an issue. Clear communication is essential, respect for others (no matter who or what they are and what you think of then) is critical and there is value in a third party to build trust in the process.

He spoke of the paradigm shift from the .org world to the .net world, from structured organisations to loose networks - and the fascinating shift to structured public engagement and civil discourse. In Israel, they have facilitated street conversations - 1000 round tables in 80 locations. What about that in Scotland?

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