I tend to think of negotiation as a competitive process that necessarily requires cooperation in order for the parties to reach their shared objective of resolution.

The reason I consider the process “competitive” is that each side generally wants to be “the winner,” i.e., the party that negotiated “the better deal.” However, the process requires cooperation because a negotiated resolution is seldom possible without concessions and compromise.

Sometimes the desire to be “the winner” thwarts the process from the very beginning, with one side or both staking out an extreme position, thinking it will enhance their chances of being “the winner.” In reality, that strategy often backfires, resulting in negotiations that end abruptly and unnecessarily.

A better strategy is to take a more reasonable and measured approach to settlement negotiations, sending a clear message of one’s willingness to work cooperatively and collaboratively to find a mutually acceptable outcome.

Sometimes the desire to be “the winner” thwarts the process toward the middle of the negotiations, with one side trying to take advantage of the other side’s reasonableness. Whenever one side acts reasonably and the other side doesn’t, settlement negotiations can spiral out of control.

A better strategy is to respond with an objectively reasonable counter as long as your negotiating partner continues to do so.

Sometimes the desire to be “the winner” thwarts the process at the very end, with each party refusing to make “the final concession.”

A better strategy is to let the other party be “the winner” that day, especially if you think you might find yourself negotiating with the same person someday. You never know when you might need that person to return the favor.

When everyone insists on being “the winner,” it’s much less likely the parties will reach a resolution. And whenever ego or pride stand in the way of reaching a resolution that was otherwise possible, there are no winners but there certainly will be losers.

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

Floyd J. Siegal