Best Practices for a Successful Negotiation or Mediation

Mediation Minute

A key ­­­quality for a successful attorney, leader of an organization, claims professional or human resource professional requires effective negotiation skills to resolve conflict and disputes.

Negotiating over 1,000 such disputes as an attorney and mediator has been a tremendous education on how to successfully resolve disputes and conflict. As a mediator, I have attended two Harvard Negotiator Programs, been a trained EEOC mediator, a Center for Resolution of Disputes Board Member and Mediator, taught Mediation and Conflict Resolution at Xavier University and serve as an American Arbitration Association Arbitrator and Mediator.

The purpose of this article and future ones is to share my insight and provide best practices on how to resolve disputes. In my training, the most influential resources came from the Harvard Advanced Mediator Program and using the book Getting to Yes by Fisher & Ury. This is an excellent book and I have expanded on their fundamentals based upon my personal experience. The best practices for successful negotiation or mediation include the following key concepts:

  1. Ensure the parties are open to negotiate or mediate the dispute.
  2. Pick the right mediator and agree on the role of the mediator.
  3. Insist on using objective and legitimate criteria.
  4. Separate the person from the problem.
  5. Focus on each parties’ interests, not positions.   To do so, be a good listener.
  6. Acknowledge conflicting interests and work to understanding your interests and their interests.
  7. Be flexible in your solutions and options for resolution.
  8. Make it easy for the other person to say yes with a win-win agreement.
  9. Know your limits and how to protect yourself.  Know your best and worst alternatives.
  10. Recognize unfair negotiation tactics and be prepared to counter them.
  11. Adjust your strategy when more than two parties are involved.

In future articles these concepts will be more fully developed and expanded. By developing strategies and  a negotiating process anyone will be more successful in the resolution of disputes or negotiation of agreements that serve both parties interests. I have found as a mediator that when all involved follow this process a successful resolution is achieved.