The following excerpt from the PBS Benjamin Franklin webpage, Citizen Ben, demonstrates the wisdom of Lax’ and Sebenius’ advice that every successful negotiation requires moves away from the table to set up the most promising situation once your’e at the table. 3-D Negotiation.
Here, those “away from the table” negotiation moves led to the founding of our nation.
In 1781, Benjamin Franklin was in France. . . Franklin understood the French and knew that real diplomacy wasn’t accomplished at the negotiating table, but at the dinner table. He spent a great deal of time in the salons and at dinner parties where things could be discussed in an informal manner. In this way, he won the trust and respect of the French court.
Although the Continental Congress wanted to negotiate a treaty directly with Great Britain, the French wanted to arrange for a three-way treaty that would end the war between France and England, as well as between England and the colonies. There was some concern on the part of the Congress, as well as other commission members, that Franklin might be unduly influenced by France in the negotiations. Months passed and various offers and counteroffers were made by the former colonies and Great Britain. In addition, France was negotiating settlements with Great Britain that involved portions of the North American continent.
Adams and Jay made an end run around France to negotiate a treaty directly with Great Britain. The British made an incredible offer, one that gave the Americans almost more than they were demanding. Franklin recognized that the British offer was the best that could be had. The French were offended that the Americans had gone behind their back.
Franklin used his connections and his diplomatic skills to convince the French that Adams and Jay had acted out of lack of propriety, not hostility.
In late November 1782, the Paris pact was signed and sent back to Great Britain and the American Congress for ratification.
Thanks to Franklin’s diplomacy, along with Adams’ and Jay’s work, the United States was recognized as a separate and equal nation by the world’s great superpowers, France and Great Britain.
Happy 4th of July!