What Should You Know Before Starting A Negotiation At A Mediation Table?

August 20, 2021

What Should You Know Before Starting A Negotiation At A Mediation Table?

Most people, especially those who are trying to settle legal disputes, don’t really know what to expect when negotiating across a mediation table. These negotiations are usually nothing like what the parties have experienced before.

Due to their lack of prior experience, when parties come to the mediation table, they find themselves shocked, disheartened, and frustrated especially upon receiving their opening settlement offer.

In this blog, we talk about what you can expect when you go to a mediation table and how you can make the most of the situation you are in.

Expect A Troublesome Start

When you go to a mediation service to help you settle a dispute, especially a legal one, both or one of the parties are required to offer an opening settlement. In most cases, this leads to a hyper-inflated situation topped with outrage, pessimism, and discouragement.

Although mediators are very much used to the display of emotions, parties like to believe that emotional reactions to hardball openings mean that the mediation is over. However, with proper guidance and a good mediator in the picture, the process can move on smoothly and reach a viable conclusion.

Your mediator can talk to each party alone and listen to them vent to bring some calm into the situation and encourage the consideration of a longer perspective. A few points that you should remember are:

  1. The first settlement offer is merely an opening figure. It does not decide the conclusion.
  2. Mediation is frequently an all-day process.
  3. No one actually expects the first offer to be accepted.
  4. Opening offers are rarely a true reflection of what a party is willing to offer or accept.
  5. The other side’s top or bottom line is unlikely to become evident until several offers.

Moreover, if you are the offering party, know that unrealistic opening proposals lead to equally unproductive, unrealistic, and reactionary counter-proposals which in turn cause outrage and dismay. So, make sure you are reasonable when providing offers.

Hardball Tactics Are Used

Once the parties have provided their opening statements or offers, the negotiations usually continue at a glacial pace for several more rounds. In some cases, the movements and increments are barely noticeable which can be extremely frustrating.

This is usually done to cloud the other party’s judgment. Even some trained and experienced negotiators might do this. Some of the reasons for this are:

  • The Negotiator was trained to negotiate aggressively.
  • Some believe an aggressive, negative opening offer sends the right opening message that is “Don’t get your hopes up.”
  • Some seek to establish a favorable negotiation range before the other side can do so.
  • Some believe an unproductive number can help lower the other side’s expectations about the value of the dispute.
  • Some actually believe that discouraging the other side early is an important step in the softening-up process.

Hence, it is advised that you go into the situation with a realistic perspective and a robust understanding of the process.

The Other Side Is Counting On Your Impatience

Don’t get discouraged by unrealistic, unproductive opening numbers. Proposals demanded in round one rarely predict where a dispute may settle and good settlements require patience.

Moreover, mediation sessions are scheduled for the entire day and there may be as many as five, six, or seven rounds back and forth before the process is complete. Hence, try to be patient throughout the process. Some things you can do to ensure a favorable conclusion are:

  • Know what to expect
  • Be patient and flexible
  • Keep an open mind
  • Plan strategically
  • Listen carefully
  • Make constructive and reciprocal proposals using an understandable rationale

About Mediation Services

Do you want to reach out to a safer and more reliable option to settle your conflicts? Call Mediation Services to have your family, neighborhood, or workplace conflicts resolved by our professionals. Our online workshops and on-site training can resolve your issues without all the emotional stress.

If you have questions,
please don’t hesitate to call.


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