Many years ago I worked with the most brilliant negotiator and mentor. His strategy was 'get close, agree a line in the sand privately and then go out all guns blazing'. It worked every time and he was negotiating with some of the most hostile unions.

No one ever wants to lose face and a good negotiator needs to respect that. Confrontation rarely works. Demanding and making it personal is also useless. 

First he would spend lots of time with the official getting to know them. Then at the time of the negotiations he would take them out and find out what their line in the sand was. Next he would tell them what his line in the sand was. Once they both knew that then they would discuss 'posturing' tactics.

Both would come in at outrageous positions, shout and scream, go back and forth with endless hostile media coverage and eventually and inevitably come to the line in the sand that they had agreed on weeks ago.

The theatre was there for both sides. It was important for the members and the management to see that every attempt had been made to get a great deal.

The Brexit negotiations have certainly had a lot of theatre, but somehow somewhere on the backstage of the EU,  people with the skills of my former mentor are quietly working away whilst the politicians and officials provide the drama on stage.