Negotiators: How to Handle Difficulties
The world counts on attorneys to be negotiators—and when your clients needs you to negotiate and get them the best deal, the stress is on, often meaning there may be difficulties. There are many ways to prepare for such a process, but the first business in order is background, background, background! This starts with your own client. Do you fully understand how they ended up in a dispute requiring negotiation, and what was their motivation to begin with? When it comes to the bottom line, what will they agree to accept? Also, understand your client’s relationship with the other party, if there is one. Research the other party, gaining information about their personal and business lives, anything possible about their finances, and try to figure out what their vulnerable points may be.
Negotiations can be manipulated in many ways, especially when you come to the table armed with data. Next, if possible, control the atmosphere. Is an austere, corporate tone best for these negotiations, or would a relaxed and casual mediation type scenario be more conducive to reaching an agreement quickly? Even the smallest details like drinks, snacks, or entire meals (or even taking the meeting to a restaurant, in some cases) can make a difference in the overall feel of the process.
It is almost always beneficial to your client for you to make the first move in negotiations, even if you are throwing out a number that could be unrealistically high. This is a way to anchor a number, giving that figure significance to the other party as they begin to work from that rather than a lower sum—even if unconsciously so. If this does not go smoothly, however, and negotiations break down, taking a break is always acceptable. This could be a short intermission—or even one that last weeks as parties take time to cool down and reschedule a day, or longer even, to reconvene. When emotions begin to run the show, it is time for a break.
Upon meeting again, you may begin asking more pointed questions such as why the other party is not able to work with the current offer. Ask your client if there is something more they can give or accept. There may a surprising number of other ways to ‘give’ in the negotiation, and often your side may be able to give something of relatively little value that may matter substantially to the other. Keep in mind that it is usually better—and especially if you are at the end of your rope in negotiations—to let the other party decide to walk away from the deal. If you have nothing more to offer and have been completely honest and they still can’t deal, let them be the ones to get up and go.
Are you interested in becoming a skilled lawyer and negotiator? Our mission at CDTA College of Law is to educate, train, and develop extraordinary legal advocates. Your legal education will be comprised of bar-tested academic subjects, skills training, and values reinforcement. Upon completion of your 4-year course of study you will be fully qualified to take and pass the California Bar examination. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.