The Alliterative Allure of Prof. John Wade

I mention Prof. John Wade a lot in this blog for a couple of reasons.

First, he is wonderfully knowledgeable about all things mediation, but more than that – he is one of my favorite types of people – he is a list junkie… he has 5 ways to do this, 10 ways to do that…

Prof. Wade’s lists are adorned with alliterative titles like Dobermans and Diplomats (a list of 17 impasse breaking strategies) or How to respond when eager, expensive, entrenched expert egos escalate enmity (a list of 12 ways to respond to duelling experts).

Or The Five Humble Hypotheses may be more your thing; a list of 5 questions that every mediator must ask themselves as they make their way to the mediation room…

1. What are the causes of this conflict?

2. What interventions might be helpful?

3. What bumps/glitches are predictable?

4. What substantive outcomes are possible/probable?

5. What risks if the conflict continues?

Because it is with some confidence Wade decrees there are 16 (count’em 16) methods for ‘crossing the last gap in negotiations’.

Take note, they are:

1. Talk – Try to convince

2. Split Difference

3. Expanding the pie by subdividing the last gap

4. Expanding the pie by an add-on offer – “What if I moved on…..?”

5. Refer to a third party umpire

6. Chance – flip coin

7. Chance – Draw gradations from a hat

8. Transfer the last gap to a third party

9. Conditional offers and placating incremental fears – “What if I could convince client to…? How would you respond?”

10. Pause – and speak to significant others

11. Pause – and schedule time for a specific offer

12. Defer division of last gap; divide rest

13. Sell last item at auction; split proceeds

14. Pick-a-pile; you cut, I choose

15. Skilled helper has a face-saving tantrum

16. File a (further) court application – pursue pain and hope For a detailed and useful discussion of each of the gap strategies go to the online full text at Chapter 54 of that seminal work The Negotiator’s Fieldbook

P.S. I tried #15 the other day – the response from Counsel? “So Geoff, it’s all about you is it?”… I will be moving on to try #1 thru’ #15


Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering… MORE >

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