Tuesday, May 11, 2010, 02:58 PM
Posted by Administrator
As I sat on my back porch this morning shooting BBs at an ant hill that popped up the moment the snow melted, I thought to myself: "Those bunch of ants sure seem to have a lot more on the ball then any similar size group of lawyers I've ever seen." So, I thought "Why am I shooting at 'em."

I stopped shooting, came inside, and began to write this....SOME RULES FOR SUCCESSFUL NEGOTIATION.

I remember a lawyer I had a case with a few years back. He was younger than me. A lot younger.

Anyway, we had to file this long form called a "Pretrial Stipulation" at least 10 days before "Calendar Call" (whatever that is). We were running late. I knew from my previous vast experience on account of being older than dirt that being late wouldn't matter as long as we got it done. I tried to bet the other lawyer 50 bucks that at least 3/4 of the lawyers who showed up at Calendar Call wouldn't have their's done. He wouldn't bet.

At Calendar Call it turned out that we were the only ones who had their Stipulation done. The other lawyer was unimpressed when I pointed this out to him. "But the rule says you have to do it", he said. "But, there are rules." "But, everyone should follow the rules."

Even the word "rules" gives me a headache. So, when I offer up SOME RULES FOR SUCCESSFUL NEGOTIATION, I don't really mean "rules"...I mean stuff, things, anecdotes, funny stories, cartoon characters. I don't really mean that there are rules.

a) Negotiations are a give and take. Don't give if you aren't given the opportunity to take.
b) Don't bargain against yourself. If you make an offer and get a counteroffer that is unreasonably low then it doesn't amount to a counteroffer at all. Refuse to make another offer until the other side shows they are taking your offer seriously.
c) Whoever talks first loses. In face to face negotiations, when you ask for a deal or make an offer: SHUT UP. Silence puts pressure on the other side. Silence makes people uncomfortable but YOU DON'T CARE. If you talk before the other side accepts or rejects your offer, you take the pressure off. ...and, right before you opened your yap....they were about to say "yes".
d) Don't be led by the nose. You be in control of the pace and mechanics of the negotiation. For example, if you are at a mediation, tell the mediator you don't want to sit across from the other want to be in another room. Don't be afraid to get up and head for the door. People will refuse to move away from silly positions if they are being watched. They will feel much more flexible if you aren't watching.
e) Make the other side like you (this is not easy for me but it might work great for you). If they like you, they will want to give you what you want,.
f) Every major agreement/sale/deal involves a moment of insanity. The insanity is why you will have buyer's remorse the next day. Think about it.
g) The most successfull negotiations take all day...maybe two. People are most likely to agree when their blood sugar is lowest; when they really want to leave and go home; when they have been negotiating so long that they have lost the will to live.
h) Don't be afraid to leave. You don't really care if you piss off the mediator? Do you? And the other side....they got you into this mess to begin with. There is nothing wrong in not agreeing.

But, you don't want to give them what they want (except to the extent necessary to move on with your life). You want them to do everything they can to wrap things up. And, all they have to do is agree with you. And, you can bring them to that moment of insanity when they will make the deal.

And the next day........for them: buyer's remorse.

OK....probably buyer's remorse for you, too.
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