Managing Negotiations Manipulation Maneuvering Manifesting Mediation Meetings Mistake/Mistakes Motives


The leader of the pack, of wolves that is, metes out tasks so that the pack as a whole survives the harsh winter. By their collective efforts enough food is found to keep the young alive.

A negotiation leader or a mediator delegates responsibilities not only to get the job done but also to give everyone a vested interest in the outcome. By directing and delegating, the mediator effectively makes both parties more equal and more likely to be able to come to an agreement.

In any dispute those involved make up a small group and are subject to traditional group dynamics. Groups need to be managed. This is what makes mediators effective. They are at managing the mediation process. Negotiators can learn a lot from their mediating brethren. Parents, too, benefit from approaching family disputes as a group process in which each family member has a role and voice. Using inclusion to integrate everyone's needs into the solution can yield very positive results.

Disorganized groups without leadership quickly collapse into chaos. Chaos rewards the stronger of the parties; it does not yield a negotiated settlement.



You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. This is sage advice. But it is not for mediators or negotiators who must learn how to make 'horses' drink or fail!

To succeed negotiators must make others want to do things they don't always want to do. Managers and leaders are often accused of being masters of manipulation. Getting people to do things they would not ordinarily want to do can involve manipulation as well as effective leadership and management skills. It is certainly good negotiating.

Manipulation has a bad connotation of trickery or deceit. In fact, when managing the negotiating process you are seeking to maneuver the other person into agreeing to your terms. How you do this determines if people think you are manipulative or simply an effective negotiator.

Mediators are masters of manipulation. They must get warring parties to set aside their differences and reach an accord. Most people are used to being told what is right to do. A mediator is unable to make the decision for the group. He must enable each of the parties to make their own settlement decisions. Often manipulation of the parties is required to get over their initial animosity.

Being able to lead others, convincing them to hear what is being said, and to consider options is a mark of a good leader. Tricking others into doing your will is not.



Deer, elk and moose collectively kill more people than all types of bears combined! During their mating season from early to mid fall, moose become very aggressive. They are huge and they know it but they are not terribly bright. If one charges, hide behind a tree or bush. If it can't see you, chances are it will be quickly distracted and forget about you.

A negotiator is like a halfback. He must be an apt broken-field runner. To maneuver the pitfalls of a settlement conference one always needs to be on his toes. Anticipating the unexpected is the key to success.

Maneuvering during negotiations is best accomplished if:

-You have mastered the subject.

-You understand the other person.

-You have checked your ego at the door.

-You don't let your judgment be clouded by your emotions.

-You have prepared and planned for the unexpected.

It is a good tactic to use off-the-wall offers or proposals to get the other person off-balance or distracted. Sometimes the ridiculous proposal is so confounding that it is accepted. Before you tender such an offer, make sure you are willing to deliver if it is accepted.



Before walking into a wolves' den it is wise to have a strong mentally image of coming in one piece. If the wolves smell fear, you will become dinner for the cubs.

Manifesting is the process of creating what we want in our lives. It is the turning ideas and desires into physical form. Visualization and affirmation are as common in the negotiating profession as they are in professional sports. They are also key aspects of self-defense and hand-to-hand combat training. It is a matter of conjuring the outcome before entering the arena to establish your attitude and posture as a winner.

The power of positive thinking is touted in many circles. In negotiations it can make the difference between being good and being great. Before entering a negotiation it is common for effective negotiators to mentally role-play how to win specific points. This enables one to anticipate parries made by the other party and develop natural, readily-available counter moves. The right attitude strengthens your confidence.

Get in the winning mood before a negotiation.



There is not much hope for mediation when confronted by a hungry tiger. His bottom line is to have you for dinner. Yours is to not be dinner. Compromise is out of the question.

Mediation is not negotiation. While negotiation involves bartering and mediation attempts to bring people together through compromise, the two processes are distinctly dissimilar.

Mediation is a formal process whereby an unbiased, disinterested third party attempts to facilitate an agreement between the parties. Mediation technique involves removing emotion from the fray, identifying the core issues, and building a scenario in which both parties gain enough to justify agreeing to the terms rather than entrusting their fate to the court system or formal arbitration.

Negotiation is the less formal enterprise of seeking to gain an accord that is as beneficial to your interests as possible. Negotiation technique often encompasses but is not limited to mediation techniques, in reality, does not care for the interests of the other party as the mediator must.



Impromptu meetings between a deer and a pack of wolves are normally non-productive for the deer.

Meetings are opportunities. They provide opportunities to gather information, opportunities to negotiate, and opportunities to reach an accord. They are the crux of dispute resolution in that they facilitate communication.

By their very nature, meetings can be hazardous. They pose reciprocal opportunities for the other person to learn things about you, to delve into how you might compromise your position, and to ferret out your weaknesses.

As a result, meeting management is a key area of focus for mediators and negotiators. Each meeting, even those in casual settings should be prepared for with care.

Setting a meeting's time and place is part of the negotiators tactical process.

Things to consider when arranging a meeting:

-The time of day determines how much time will have available to complete the business of a meeting. If you know you will be pressing for major decisions, make sure you have ample time to do so. Set an early meeting; not one toward the end of the day. If you do not want a decision forced on you, schedule the meeting with limited time. A four o'clock meeting is ideal for fact-finding but troublesome to reach any kind of a decision as either party has the option of 'calling it a day' and postponing the essential final decisions.

-By visiting the other person's office or home, you gain an opportunity to observe personal aspects of his or her life, find common areas to discuss while building a relationship, and you are in control of when you leave. If the meeting is in your office it is hard to abruptly throw the other person out. But if you are in his office, you can suddenly check your watch and feign a need to leave. Also, if you have the chance to meet the other person's assistant, build a familiarity bridge with that person. It may be necessary to coax information later.

-Travel involves an investment of time in the negotiation. By hosting the meeting, you have already made the other person travel to your office. If you happen to be across the country, there will also be a commitment in travel expenses. The greater the time/expense investment made, the greater the likelihood that that they are serious about the meeting. Another measure is the ease of setting a meeting. The more available you appear to be, the more motivated they will assume you are to settle.

-The invitation list is critical to any meeting. Make sure you decide if major decisions are to be reached. If so, the decision makers need to be there or otherwise be available to commit. If you do not intend to commit, do not take the 'cloak of authority' into the meeting.

Traffic in large cities is always a consideration. Try to schedule around congested periods or locations to help keep the meeting starting time on schedule.



The biggest mistake a leopard can make is to think he can win against a man with a gun. Intuitively beasts in the wild know to fear man, not because man is stronger or faster. Their intuition warns that man is an unpredictable foe!

Everyone makes mistakes. It is the fear of doing so that paralyzes otherwise competent negotiators. No worries, everyone makes them. The important thing is learning how to recover from a mistake.

Mistakes come in varying sizes. The bigger the mistake, the more likely it will be noticed.

How to handle mistakes:

-If it is an innocent error, admit it and move on. Do not offer to compensate the other for the faux pas. It was unintended. Everyone makes mistakes. What's the big deal?

-If it was a tactical blunder or bluff, assess the real damage. Some compensatory groveling may be in order. You may be able to ease the situation by suggesting that you had to try it, even though you knew it would not fly. Or you knew better but your boss told you to try it.

-If the mistake involves a lie or falsehood and it is discovered you have some major repairs to the relationship to make. Be prepared to take the brunt of the other's wrath. You deserve it. Your word is or should be sacrosanct. Do not soil your good name to win a battle. You will place the war in jeopardy.



A diamondback rattler strikes at a man or horse to defend itself. It knows it is not that hungry!

Motives are what make people take action. Without the motivation to live better and longer we would all still be waiting for someone else to discover fire or learn how to raise crops. Farming is far safer than stalking a tyrannosaurus rex!

Mediators need to source the motives that are causing the parties to argue. Often the motives are far different than the issues. The mediator's challenge is to uncover the forces that are standing in the way of reaching a settlement. This is especially difficult as often the parties themselves are unaware of the underlying causes of the dispute until brought to light by the mediator.

In a family dispute, motives tend to be very complex and deeply hidden. The parties may resist delving into them due to embarrassment, pride or arrogance. An effective family counselor develops ways to circumvent such feels to get to the root causes of the discord.

Understanding or appreciating the nature of the underlying issues will help in the structuring of a lasting resolution.

The following questions help to surface motives in family disputes:

-What is it about this situation that makes it unusually important to you?

-Is there anything else that is causing this to bother you so much?

-Is there anything about dealing with the other person that is bothering you more than this issue?

-If we resolve this situation will you be happy? If not, why?

-Are you here because you want to be or because you feel you have to be?

-Now is the time to discuss anything else that is troubling. Are there other things you want to bring up?

There is no reason similar underlying issues need uncovering and resolving in a business or political setting. Often there are hidden issues that, if resolved, lead the way to better relationships. Improved relationships tend to lead to better agreements.


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