At Pepperdine the other week Bruce Edwards likened the mediation of money disputes to a space rocket on a continuum of early, mid and late stage negotiation.
It got me thinking.
By early negotiation you have already done your convening and opening work. You have banked the currency you earned in those phases of the mediation (rapport, trust, credibility etc) but it's not there for long and you will spend it in the forthcoming negotiation phase.
By the end of early-stage negotiation you will have jettisoned the experts who fall away earthward - with all their technical know-how that has been useful until now - and you speed on.
By the end of mid-stage you have said goodbye to the legal issues (aka merits of the case and risk analysis) that have given the debate structure so far.
So that by the late-stage of negotiation you are floating in space, facilitating the deal while the parties swap messages wrapped up in dollar proposals attempting to signal the potential for movement - often unprincipled and pragmatic, not weighed down by 'the case', but more about what can be achieved around that table on that day with that amount of talking behind them.