The manoeuvring over the Scottish referendum on independence is going to show what happens when two “pushers” are involved in a negotiation. It looks as though Cameron is trying to push Scotland into an agreed early date for a referendum, and some say over what question is asked, in return for giving the referendum legal effect from Westminster.

“Push” behaviour is all about your own agenda and not about the other side’s agenda. It involves behaviours such as stating expectations, using pressures (and incentives) to get your own way, proposing with reasons, and testing and probing the other side’s position.

David Cameron does not seem to be a natural “pusher” as a negotiator, but he does seem to be driven by big ideas for which he will push. The saving of the historic Union between England and Scotland is a big idea for a man with an achievement drive. The move to “push” the Scots towards an early and decisive referendum on independence is an example of a “push” pressure tactic.

Alex Salmond is a much more natural “push” negotiator – in fact, it is probably his default behaviour. In asserting Scottish independence he constantly “states expectations” as to the Scots’ entitlement, which is a classic push tactic. Like many Nationalist movements, the SNP (and indeed Salmond himself) seem motivated by a desire for recognition, and are prepared to push for this agenda.

So, what happens when two pushers meet?

1. We can expect Salmond and the SNP to push back – as indeed has already happened. The Scottish Government has already announced that it wants the referendum to be held in 2014 – later than the UK Government has proposed. And he and other SNP colleagues have criticised David Cameron for trying to “impose” terms and “interfere” in a purely Scottish matter.

2. Two pushers find it hard to get deals done, as they are too busy working off their own agenda to meet the other side’s needs. Their mutual pushing sometimes leads to the side with the greater bargaining power prevailing (but at the expense of leaving the other side with a grudge). In this case it would seem that final legal authority (a big source of bargaining power) over the outcome of a referendum rests with Westminster. But one can only imagine what the impact on the result of a referendum would be if the Scots felt that they were being dictated to legally by England.

3. Alternatively two pushers create a hostile climate which leads to an on-going, unresolved and ultimately futile dispute, with each side constantly looking to exert increased pressure on the other.

You can see what David Cameron is trying to do here. He knows Salmond is canny enough to orchestrate the referendum so that it contains not just “yes” and “no” options – but a third way – a “devo max” solution where Scotland gets more political powers but stays part of the UK and therefore entitled to continue to spend UK public funds. This is obviously not an attractive outcome for Westminster.

Maybe in the circumstances, “Joining” behaviour would be a better tactic for the Unionist side in this debate. Creating a shared vision of what can be achieved in a negotiation is often a more productive way of encouraging people on two sides of a debate to stick together.

In the meantime, stand by for further “pushey” behaviour on both sides…