Tips For Successful Negotiations From The Prospective Of A Mediator – Part 1

As a mediator in Arizona, I have seen all styles of negotiation.  Many people and companies seem to think negotiations mean you have to be unrelenting and overly aggressive.  For example,
•    There are those that start at an impossibly high or low number or demand and then balk when the other side does not meet them in the middle.   You lose your credibility from the get-go if you start with unreasonable positions.

•    There are those who threaten to walk out if their demands are not unequivocally met.  This is not a negotiation.  You will never find common ground or convince the other party to work with you with this tactic.

•    There are those who use threats and chest-pounding to attempt to coerce a settlement.  Again, threats do no garner cooperation and concessions.
Below are some tips for a successful negotiation.
1.    Listen.  By listening to the other party, you will be learning more about what will get the dispute resolved, and knowledge is power.  Ask open ended questions and let the other party do much of the talking.  You will be able to consider new possibilities for compromises that will benefit both parties.   You will also be working toward the second point:

2.    Be kind and generous.  The psychological principal of reciprocity teaches us that it is kindness and giving that begets positive responses in others.  In fact, people feel compelled to respond in kind.  By being respectful, paying earned compliments, listening (see above), and acknowledging the other person’s feelings and point of view, you are creating an environment that is likely to result in a mutually benefit resolution of an issue.  If you attack the other party, that party will be put on the defensive in a way that will make him/her resistant to making concessions.

3.    Be truthful and ethical.  Once you lose your credibility – by, for example, bending the truth or making threats that will not be carried out  –  you will not gain it back.  Negotiations will suffer.

4.    Sell your suggestions.  Instead of stating how the settlement will help you, explain how it will benefit the other party.  Couch the offer in terms that sound most attractive/least offensive to the other party.

5.    Use a mediator.  Use a mediator to help with negotiations.  A mediator will help both parties convey and consider offers and options in a neutral and compromise-educing environment.  A mediator promotes reasonableness in both parties and generally makes settlement much more likely.

Part 2 of Successful Negotiations from the prospective of a mediator

Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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