Creating A Negotiation Plan

From the blog of Nancy Hudgins

Most of us prepare for mediations on auto-pilot. If we’ve evaluated the case, gotten settlement authority from our clients and written the mediation brief, we kid ourselves into thinking we’re good to go.

This tried and true method works . . . until impasse. Then we’re stuck, wondering why the case won’t settle, or, at a minimum, how the other side cannot possibly agree with us about the appropriate ballpark to be in.

One of the ways to avoid impasse is to create a negotiation plan. Then, if there are miscues or hurdles along the way, we have an organized, pre-planned way to deal with them. This is not to say that we won’t improvise, but at least we know where we’re headed and how to get there.

The essential elements of a negotiation plan include:

1. How to start
2. Where to start
3. What information to exchange—and when
4. Preparing to avoid verbal leaks
5. What concessions to make—and when
6. Bargaining strategies that work
7. Bargaining strategies to avoid
8. Preparing for emotions—(yours, your client’s, theirs)
9. Brainstorming through impasse
10. Saving face—(theirs)

I’ll be writing about these in the next series of posts.


Nancy Hudgins

Nancy Hudgins, a San Francisco mediator and lawyer, began specializing in civil litigation in the 1970's. She has represented both plaintiffs and defendants, chiefly in personal injury, medical malpractice, elder abuse and product liability lawsuits, but also in a wide variety of complex litigation, including civil rights, fraud and class… MORE >

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