More often than not, I’ve found that settlement negotiations tend to break down for one reason: one or more parties choose to employ a negotiating strategy and/or tactic which — though not necessarily the intention — prevents the parties from reaching “the outer limits” of their dispute, i.e., the minimum dollar amount plaintiff could reasonably be expected to consider under all of the circumstances and the maximum dollar amount defendant could reasonably be expected to offer.

Whether hoping to gain the upper hand or engaging in some form of pre-emptive strike, one party begins their negotiations from the extreme end of the spectrum. Reacting to that party’s tactics, the opposing party adopts an identical strategy, with fairly predictable results. Before long, frustration builds to the boiling point and — drawing a line in the sand that is likely to be washed away eventually, albeit weeks or months down the road — one party terminates the mediation.

Personalities, egos, timing and legitimate differences of opinion may all be contributing factors, but impasse occurs more often than not because one party decides to end negotiations before the parties have reached the true parameters of their dispute.

On the other hand, it’s been my experience that the parties can usually find a way to bridge the gap once they reach “the outer limits.” That being the case, it’s imperative that the parties correctly identify “the outer limits” in every dispute and that they employ every possible strategy, from bracketing to blind negotiations, to reach those limits.

When the parties find a way to reach “the outer limits,” they usually discover there were never any limits to their reaching a resolution in the first place.

As always, I would be pleased to assist you and your clients in the dispute resolution process. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of service.

Best regards . . .

Floyd J. Siegal

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