Build a Golden Bridge

by Penny Tremblay

To position yourself for good sandbox play, you can’t retreat to your corner and turn your back on the challenges that make you feel like doing exactly that – turning your back.


You must face the circumstance.
To retreat is not a sign of weakness, in-fact building a ‘golden bridge’ for someone to re-frame their retreat from a tough stance to be open to your ideas is a technique to help you keep moving things forward to a better solution.

For example, you might ask for their opinions or ideas, give them choices to choose from, or let them know that you’re open to continuing to seek solutions together.

Build onto their input with your ideas.
This strategy could help them take some ownership of the agreement process and save face with their colleagues and counterparts.

Something I’ve learned from Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and Leadership is that when it comes to hard bargaining, people often want to ‘save face’ with their colleagues and counterparts. Although it’s important to save face and look good for yourself and others, it’s especially difficult when relationship or negotiation parties have taken a tough stance.

Another example is by my friend Bernie from the Ford dealership down the highway from where I live. He sent a card in the mail to a customer who, after shopping around chose not to buy his car from Bernie. The card had a golden bridge on the front, and the inscription encouraged the gentleman to consider the Ford dealership if he ever needed another car. The man came in the following week and bought his wife a car, saying that he thought Bernie would have been upset with him for purchasing elsewhere, but the card proved otherwise.

There’s always a win-win solution when you’re seeking the highest and best for all parties involved.