Strategies for Success with Environmental Regulatory Relations: Part 2

We’ve been discussing strategies to help your business have better relations with environmental regulators. Almost every business interest has some environmental impact, which means you probably are regulated by your local or state environmental agency, or maybe the US EPA directly. We talked about building positive relationships in Part 1.

Now we want to think about the best way to communicate with regulators to achieve a desired outcome.



Communicate your interests, instead of stating your position.

Most people will argue a point based on what they want (their position) instead of why they want it (their interests). The classic example to illustrate this concept is the story of two sous chefs arguing over a single orange in the kitchen. Each is adamant that they need a whole orange for their individual recipes. When the Executive Chef asks why each needs a whole orange, the first chef says their recipe calls for the juice of one orange. The other’s recipe calls for the zest or outer peel of one orange. What they needed represents their position (one whole orange). Why they need it represents their interests (juice for one, zest for the other). Looking beyond their position and discovering their interests results in both chefs getting exactly what they need from the one orange.

How does this apply to regulatory relationships? Our perspective is compromised if we fail to understand the underlying interests of all parties involved (your company, the regulator, and the public). All parties are better served when we consider the possibility of our shared interests to achieve a desired outcome.

Tips to consider:

    1. Read and become familiar with regulations.
      The regulator appreciates someone who has taken an interest in understanding the requirements on their own. Know what rules are fixed (no available regulatory discretion) and which ones are variable (open to regulatory discretion based on individual circumstances). Ask the regulator to help you find ways to achieve your interests with all available legal discretion.
    2. Invite dialogue and appreciative inquiry.
      Articulate your interpretation of the regulations that support your interests (not your position). Ask the regulator for their ideas on what might achieve your interests within the regulatory framework. Invite the regulator to help you check your facts (e.g. here is my interest, here is my interpretation of the rules, where am I wrong?).

Check back soon for Part 3!


Need help?

Draper Aden Associates has several former regulators on staff to assess your regulatory needs and help maintain compliance. Find out how we can help you overcome obstacles with environmental regulations. Contact Us.