Negotiating the best for everyone - Part 5

July 29, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Positive negotiation during separation

This is the fifth of five articles on managing the legal side of separation published in The Press.24 April 2007

Here are some more tips to help make you be a good negotiator during the process of separation.

Bargaining strength. In virtually every negotiation, the parties will have differing bargaining strengths. Think of it as the relative strengths of the cards that you and the other party have been dealt. For example, the law may favour one party and not the other, or one party may be under pressure to sell, but not the other.

The negotiation needs to be instilled with realism. You will be a better negotiator if you realistically take account of relative bargaining strengths.

If, in terms of bargaining strength, the other party is superior to you, then just as well you know it, because otherwise you may refuse to accept a settlement proposal which is, in fact, advantageous to you.

On the other hand, if you have the superior bargaining strength, make sure the other party knows that, because unless they do, they will waste your time by declining your sensible settlement proposals.

Keep it civil. Given that negotiation is the art of mutual persuasion, there is no point needling, hectoring, insulting, humiliating or abusing the other party. You run the risk that they will walk away from the negotiation and both parties suffer.

Plainly state your arguments. The best way to convey your bargaining strength is to put your good arguments. A good argument is an irresistible one, provided that you express it succinctly and clearly and that you do not wrap it up in irrelevancies and personal criticism or abuse.

Prepare. It is no easy thing to state a case coherently and persuasively. Before, or during, a negotiation, you should take time to marshal your evidence and formulate your arguments. Most likely, you will need the assistance of your lawyer or other support person to do that. They can be the ''devil's advocate'', testing the soundness and completeness of your arguments. Your case should be capable of ready summary. You should be clear on your key points.

Keep an open mind. The other party may well have some good points to make. If you have a closed mind you might not ''hear'' these points. Or even if you do, you may be unwilling or unable to sensibly alter your bargaining position. It is important that you do not rigidly adhere to a pre-determined bargaining position, despite what you learn during the negotiation, because that runs the risk you will reject unwisely an advantageous offer.

Stay positive. It is common to enter a negotiation with a pessimistic mindset, but that makes it harder to keep an open mind and depletes your negotiation energy and enthusiasm. Negotiations are full of surprises, often good ones. By negotiating, you usually have nothing to lose, but potentially a lot to gain. So, stay positive.

Category: Family Disputes