Here’s a basic fact of life: People like to feel in control, whether it’s at their workplace, at home or in a negotiation.
But we are seldom in sole control of any of those situations, and that’s how disputes arise and continue. Though the result of a negotiation is not completely under your control, your preparation is.
Start by defining the pivotal issues. There are seldom more than five, usually just one or two. Determine the specific range of results your side needs to bring the matter to conclusion.
Imagine the circumstances from your opponent’s point of view. Be specific. What is the hot button? It’s usually not just money. Emotional or reputational costs, as well as the financial drain of drawn-out proceedings, may be factors.
Many litigants feel they have been disrespected. Sometimes a carefully worded apology goes a long way toward bridging a negotiation gap. What does this person really need?
It takes more than two
Bringing everyone together for mediation shows a serious intent to resolve the dispute. Make sure the real decision-makers are attending. That might be a corporate higher-up like a claims manager, but it might also be a family member.
Using the mediator as a buffer between parties can magnify the effectiveness of your message. Your opponent may have brushed off your arguments before but will listen to them when they come from the mediator.
You cannot completely control a negotiation. The opposing party could surprise you in a number of ways. Your own client may surprise you. But thorough preparation will help you manage a negotiation.
You are the one person you know you can control.
Attorney Teddy Snyder mediates workers' compensation cases throughout California. She can be contacted through snydermediations.com.
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