Kluwer’s Mediation Blog recently published one of the best articles I have read on negotiating in mediation by Bill Marsh, a London based international mediator. The article is entitled Offers in Mediation, Busting the Myths,” is a quick read, and is absolutely worth your time. Click below to go to the article.
The first two points relate to the start of a negotiation and although the article does not use the term anchoring, Marsh’s advice could easily fit within the value this blog has placed on anchoring the negotiation. There is no weakness in going first and if you know where you want to end up, there is value in setting the expectations. An opening offer that has a clearly defined rationale increases the likelihood that the offer will have the desired anchoring affect. I wrote about anchoring here. This won’t be the last article on this subject.
The use of offers with a clear rationale should not be limited to initial offers, however. As Marsh puts it, rationale increases credibility. Credibility makes it more likely that the other side will respond positively to an offer that is less than they had hoped for.
Marsh talks about the need for credibility, clarity, and respect in your offers. I am not going to try to paraphrase his description but refer you to his insights, with which I completely agree. Progress in negotiations can happen without these things but a palatable resolution is more likely if both parties work toward credibility, clarity, and respect.
There are many ways to build credibility, but it is hard to be heard if you are not listening. As Stephen Covey said in his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “Seek First to Understand …” I recently wrote an article on becoming a better listener. Start here.
I cannot offer better advice than this from Marsh’s conclusion:
Offers are a central component of all negotiations, including those in mediation. The judgment calls surrounding them demand serious thought. My plea is simply for that.