Friday, March 11, 2011

Will Tweets Destroy the NFL and NFLPA CBA Negotiations?

The NFL's collective bargaining agreement is set to expire tonight at 11.59 p.m. There has already been two previous extensions and it is unknown whether another extension or a break-down in the negotiations will occur.

Both sides are entrenched in their positions and are doing everything they can to win the hearts and minds of the fans of the NFL. However, one thing that is troubling is that last night both sides fanned the flames via Twitter. George Cohen, the federal mediator who is working with the NFL and NFLPA to resolve their differences had previously asked the parties to keep quiet about the negotiations. For most of the past two weeks both sides appeared to follow Cohen's request until last night.

One of my favorite negotiating books is called, "The Power of Nice" and it is written by highly respected Sports Agent/Attorney Ronald M. Shapiro. On page 39 of the book, Shapiro discusses how the confidentiality of the Camp David Peace process worked to benefit both Egypt and Israel in reaching a long-term peach agreement that has lasted for more than 30 years. Shapiro contrasted the Camp David negotiations with the failed mediation for the 1994-1995 Major League Baseball labor dispute. Shapiro states, "knowing that what was said would go no further-enabled discussions to take place that could never have occurred in a public forum." The baseball mediation blew up when neither side could trust each other to keep confidences.

Therefore, I recommend that both sides impose a Twitter Gag Order before the situation totally breaks down. Going back and forth on Twitter like school children is not professional. Some of the Tweets I have read may make great entertainment but the goal of a Tweet should be to bridge the communication gap and not burn a bridge.

To learn how to negotiate in the social media age you may contact me at

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