Going To The Balcony

From the blog of Nancy Hudgins

As lawyers, we evaluate a case and expect it to settle in a certain range. We also expect the other side will act in a certain way. When the negotiation does not go the way we expected, we react. The reaction is instinctive and emotional. Hey, we’re human. When the other side attacks you or your client or your case evaluation, one of your strategies can be to go to the balcony.

Bill Ury, in Getting Past No, expounded upon this strategy. If you assume the negotiation is taking place on a theater stage, going to the balcony of the theater can give you a broader perspective of what’s really going on. It has the following salutary effects.

It distances you from the fray.

It de-activates your reactive mind.

It calms your emotions.

It allows you to slow down the negotiation.

It affords you time to name the game the other side is playing and decide how to react logically, as opposed to emotionally.

When negative emotions come up, and they will, take a deep breath. Take a time out, either literally or figuratively. Think through what just happened. Remember your negotiation goals.

We’ve all heard the slogan, “Don’t get angry, get even.” In negotiation, it’s not about getting angry or about getting even. As Ury points out, it’s about getting what your client wants.


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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