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Borgen, Danish TV Series: Replete with Negotiation Lessons

Politicians are the most popular when they leave.


Folketinget is the name of Denmark's parliament. It is often nicknamed Borgen ('the castle' in Danish) after its historic location at Christiansborg Palace on Slotsholmen island in central Copenhagen.


Folketinget, together with the monarch, has the legislative power in Denmark and has had it since the birth of the Danish Constitution in 1849. The Danish monarch's power is limited to signing the laws that are passed by the parliament and is therefore in practice more a symbolic powerwww.visitcopenhagen.com.


Introduction

Borgen (2024) is an excellent four season Netflix series highlighting the political career of the first female Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg. Interestingly, season 4 arrives ten years after seasons 1, 2, and 3.   The discovery of oil in Greenland dominates this final season! Three females are the focus: Prime Minister (Signe), Minister of Foreign Affairs (Birgitte, former PM), and the TV Director of News (Katrina, who used to work for the government)  


Most people in the United States do not give a lot of thought about Denmark. Denmark has some unique issues with resonant principles and theories.


Negotiating Danish Relationship Issues.

Relationship between Denmark and Greenland.

Denmark (population=6M) essentially colonized Greenland 500 years ago.  Although Greenland (pop.=56,000) is geographically a part of the North American continent, it has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for about a millennium. Since 1721, Denmark has held colonies in Greenland, but the country was made part of Denmark in 1953. In 2009, Greenland gained self-rule over their judicial affairs and natural resources.   Denmark takes care of security and foreign relations.


This is a fraught relationship with continuous negotiations. (Capital of Greenland is Nuuk).

Many in Greenland seek independence and see Denmark as the colonizer. They view Denmark as oppressors.


Some in Denmark are highly disrespectful of Greenlanders. They see them as uneducated (40% do not graduate), alcoholics, prone to suicide (20% of children have attempted suicide), unmanageable even referring to them as Eskimos. (Greenlanders prefer to be called native Intuits, although the DNA evidence is questionable in regards to whether Greenlanders are DNA related to the Thule ancestors.)


Relationship between Denmark and the United States.

According to Wikipedia, Greenland was vital to the US in winning WWII and remains a super power with Greenland as part of the US sphere. US has the large renamed Pituffik Space Base (formerly Thule, established during WWII) 750 miles north of Article Circle and 950 miles from North Pole.  Both Denmark and Greenland often wonder whether they are the lapdog of the US.


Denmark is a stalwart NATO ally and a reliable contributor to multinational stability operations, as well as to international assistance initiatives. Denmark has forces deployed worldwide to nine NATO missions, UN peacekeeping operations, and the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.   


-Relationship between Denmark and  Russia:   Denmark's cooperation with Russian regions is a major element of bilateral relations. Copenhagen is focused on the development of ties with the Kaliningrad and Pskov regions, St Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, as well as the Krasnodar Territory. The Danish Honorary Consulate opened in Kaliningrad in 1998.Many of these discussions or negotiation involve natural resources and territorial land and water.


Relationship between Denmark and China.

According to the Green Joint Work Programme between governments of China and Denmark for 2023-2026, which was signed in August, China and Denmark will cooperate closely on climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as energy transition.


Wikipedia reports that China is Denmark's biggest trading partner in Asia and Denmark worked actively to expand its trade with China. In 2013, the two countries made new achievements in their cooperation in agriculture, environmental protection, science, education, medical care and other areas.


Negotiation Lessons or Reminders

Experts estimate that most people are negotiating 50% of their waking lives. They may not always know they are negotiating since they may call the sessions, meetings for discussions.  If people are negotiating that much, why are they not more proficient in their negotiation skills. One reason is that most people have not really focused on the negotiation stages, strategies, skills and tactics. This series, which is replete with negotiation, reminds the viewers of these lessons:


  1. Focus on goals:  Reframe the negotiation from win/lose, win/win to goals. Clarify the goals of all parties and work to achieve all of them.

  2. Be nice, civil, respectful while focusing on goals. Separate people issues from substantive issues.

  3. Be patient:  Listen, wait, and look for opportunities. Practice “the Go to the Balcony” tactic, which means taking timeouts when the negotiation becomes tense or is not making progress.

  4. Identify and distinguish between positions and interests. Positions are things that people will or will not do. Interests are the reasons underlying these positions.

  5. Be creative and have options: Research shows that creativity diminishes as people mature. In negotiation, this has to turn around. For each issue, there must be a myriad of options.

  6. Outline priorities: Identify priorities for all parties. Then strategize which issue should be negotiated first and last.

  7. Remember the balance of life: No one should be “on” 24/7. People should not be working during meals or once they go to bed. This excess can cause stress. When folks are greatly stressed, they are not efficient and often their health issues are exacerbated.

  8. Managing emotions: Realistic negotiators know that personalities and emotions are a part of all negotiations. Know how to manage those effectively.

  9. Be ready to offer concessions: Negotiation is a process of give and take. All parties should be ready to offer and accept concessions. Quid pro quo.

  10. Be ready to compromise:  Remember that comprise stands for co-promises.


Conclusion

In this series, Nyborg exudes her political craft which includes effective negotiation. Of course, it should be noted that this series is fiction and is not a documentary. Drama is, after all, as Alfred Hitchcock said, "reality with the dull bits cut out." In this series, Danish politics is presented fairly accurately and engaging. Danish politics consists of multi-parties who must negotiate alliances continuously demonstrating many negotiation lessons including mistakes from which people can also learn.


Resources

See Recommended Books under “Blogs” drop down menu.  


Roy J. Lewicki is the author of 'Essentials of Negotiation', published 2015 under ISBN 9780077862466 and ISBN 0077862465.  Publisher: McGraw Hill Higher Education


The Conflict Resolution Training Program, Leader’s Manual,  ISBN:  0-7879-6077-2.  Prudence Bowman Kestner and Larry Ray


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