“It’s great that I’m well prepared and I understand what’s really important, but they don’t. How do I get them to the table and to play fair?”
This is certainly an understandable question. Unfortunately, if it’s left unanswered it prevents or delays parties from meeting for a negotiation. They are trapped in conflict.
Reach out to the other party with an invitation to engage in an interest-based negotiation. Share with them what you have done to prepare and why. Tell them how you unpacked your own story about the conflict and share some of your own interests. Let them know what insights you had about what is important to them. Share some of the issues you think you both need to address in your negotiation.
Make it clear that your intention is to have a dialogue about a fair resolution that works for both sides and not a debate about who was right or wrong.
Confirm your commitment to listen to what they have to say so you can better understand what’s important to them. Remember they have an emotional attachment to their story just like you. Be patient and stay focused on your intention—a resolution. You are not there to be right and make them wrong, you are setting the stage for an interest-based negotiation.
When you get to the table reconfirm your intentions for your invitation and for your work together. Affirm your desire to listen to them and ask them to share with you their issues and concerns. When possible let them know what you have heard and understood by reflecting it back to them. They will correct you if you have missed the mark.
Remember this is a dialogue not a debate. It’s about both sides getting clarity about the facts and meanings and working together to create options for future resolution that meet both sides interests and needs.
When someone in a conflict feels they have been heard and understood they are much more likely to listen without their emotions being triggered.
In my next blog I will explore where you can get help for you negotiations.
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David Gould (LLB, QC, C Med) has helped hundreds of lawyers and their clients – business and government organizations, and individuals – in conflict situations to co-create solutions for the future. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.davidgouldmediation.com