JAMS ADR Blog by Chris Poole
There comes a time in every mediation when negotiations reach an impasse. Negotiations can stall at the outset of a mediation when the parties are unwilling to bargain with one another either because “it is the other side’s turn,” “we won’t respond to that outrageous demand” or “we won’t accept that insulting offer.”  Later in the mediation, impasse may occur when either party perceives that the other side is not negotiating in good faith, which means that one side has stopped matching moves with the other and has reached the bottom line, or their “limit of authority.”
For whatever reason an impasse occurs, mediators must provide the parties with the tools necessary to break the deadlock and move discussions to the zone of agreement. This is the point at which the parties have narrowed the playing field and can negotiate to closure.
Effective impasse-busting techniques include the following:
 Phrases in quotes throughout this article are heard in almost every mediation. No offense intended if you find, as you will, that you have uttered these phrases.
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