John Wade, and the brilliant team at Bond University’s Dispute Resolution Centre, have a wonderful collection of “Q-Cards” which are great little golden nuggets of information to help all dispute and conflict specialists. The Q Card series are all the business card size so very convenient and easy to take with you. Learn more about the Dispute Resolution Centre at Bond University [here
Today’s card, #8, is titled “Negotiation- Basic Principles”
Only 3 things matter- preparation, preparation, preparation. You see, real estate is not the only field with a saying that is redundant! I often incorporate this into many of my trainings and the redundancy really drives home the point of how crucial preparing is. Preparing includes not only for the specific case itself, but in certain situations, like community mediation centers and in some courts, as a mediator, you will not get your case folder until minutes, even seconds, before the case starts. Preparation can still be done here by going over your opening statements and preparing the room and notes.
Try to identify each person’s concerns, goals and priorities. Keep revising these lists. I like to note here the second part- revising. Just because you made list does not mean it cannot be altered. Even Santa checks his list more than once.
The right offer at the wrong time is the wrong offer! Timing is everything. Most times, jumping to offers right away can be the wrong move.
Begin Politely; with clear words. Set the tone and treat others the way you want to be treated. Also, this helps build rapport.
Beware threats unless you intend to carry out the threats. There’s nothing like losing credibility by saying something like, “That’s the offer, if you don’t take it, we’re leaving,” and then not leaving.
If a strategy is used against you, name it (“So is this an ambit claim?”). This is good, but also keep in mind to use it if that is the path you want to go down. Sometimes you do have to call it out, just be prepared for possible responses. Also, note, you can name it will declaring. the example given is done in the form of a question- not a declaration.
If a mistake is made, clarify and apologise immediately. Doing this not only promotes honesty but also helps build rapport.
Take Breaks. Yes, I am known to work long hours (nothing like brainstorming at 3am!) but even I realize the powerful affect a break can have. Sometimes it can be used to just get fresh air, have some tea or coffee or to ease tension.
Don’t react; rather discuss process. I similarly tell myself while preparing, “remember Jeff, respond, not react!”
Identify which goals you must gain; what can be given up. It’s could negotiating for a reason. Odds are you will not get everything you want. Looking at interests can help explore options that you thought might not have been available. Think money disputes and payment plans instead of all at once.
These are only 10 of 27 tips on the card. For more information on this card, or the series of Q Cards, contact the Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: pictured above, from left to right- John Wade, Jeff Thompson and Kiwi Mediation Extraordinaire Geoff Sharpe.
Jeff Thompson is a certified international mediator. He is also a law enforcement detective in New York. His law enforcement role include a being a communication and conflict specialist, interfaith dialogue, developing and implementing community engagement programs, and designing training workshops.
Jeff is currently a PhD candidate researching nonverbal communication and mediation at Griffith University Law School. He also received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Creighton University School of Law. Jeff has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally and has been published and featured with numerous international media organizations. He currently writes also at PsychologyToday.com.
(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions as a mediator and not that of any organization.)
Additional articles by Jeff Thompson