April 2016
Raphael Lapin

Negotiation, Mediation and Litigation-Avoidance Specialists Since 1995

10940 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, Suite 1600
Tel: 888-964-8884
Dear Clients and Friends,


Many of us get frustrated when our carefully formulated proposals are outright rejected by our negotiation counterparts.  Join me as I explore the reasons for this and offer an effective approach to getting our proposals accepted, in this April  '16 edition of N EGOTIATION STRATEGIES. 
For your reading convenience, we also distill this into a brief lessons learned at the end of the column.
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Also see  About Lapin Negotiation Services below for ways in which we can make a high impact and a demonstrable and substantive difference to your organization.

With Best Wishes 
Raphael Lapin

Many negotiators decide what they will offer to the other side before negotiations even begin. They become so committed to their proposal that often any new information that they may learn from the other side during the negotiations, will do little to move them away from their initial position.

Negotiation is not two individual parallel paths but a joint and collaborative process in which negotiators exchange information,  define  and agree on the problem, and jointly search for a mutually acceptable solution. 

Deciding and presenting the solution before engaging in a collaborative negotiation is counterproductive,  and short-circuits the entire process.  It typically results in the rejection of the proposal, resentment, diminishing trust, frustration, and  in dire cases - impasse.   

When a proposal is presented prematurely, there is likely to be what Harvard has termed a reactive devaluation. That is a devaluation of the proposal which is entirely reactionary and with no real cognitive or substantive  reason. The recipient is suspicious of the proposal only because it is presented before the negotiations have matured, trust developed and a relationship established.

In some negotiations, particularly those related to disputes, there can be an emotional barrier to resolution which will block any premature proposal attempt. Parties are still dealing with the emotional aspects of the dispute and are just not emotionally ready to settle.

Further, there may be cognitive barriers, for example, in negotiating the purchase of a business, the buyer may believe the business is worth less than its true value while the seller may believe it is worth more. If a proposal is presented before these cognitive differences are dealt with, the proposal will be rejected. 

To avoid the premature proposal trap, an effective negotiation process must be implemented. This means engaging in productive dialogue and effective information development before any solutions or proposals can be explored.

During this phase of the negotiation, emotions need to be allowed to be expressed; concerns, reservations and needs articulated, exchanged and understood; and cognitive differences bridged. Besides building a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding for a mutually acceptable solution to emerge, this phase is crucial for trust and relationships to be established. It should be considered the core and most important phase of good negotiation practice. 

When this phase is conducted proficiently, sound proposals will be collaboratively shaped and they will be cogent, salient, sustainable, durable and ultimately embraced by all.
  • Avoid becoming locked into a solution before engaging in negotiation.
  • Do not offer a proposal before effective dialogue and information development has been allowed to occur.
  • Be aware that negotiation is not two individual parallel paths, but a joint and collaborative process.
  • Understand that reactive devaluation, emotional issues and cognitive differences are barriers to proposal acceptance.
  • The dialogue and information development phase of the negotiation is crucial. It will build a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding for a mutually acceptable solution while establishing  trust and relationships.

About1About Lapin Negotiation Services


Lapin Negotiation Services offers training, consulting, advising and executive coaching in negotiation, business diplomacy and dispute resolution services.


Our proprietary and aggressively results oriented services are designed to help your leadership, teams and individuals master the essential negotiation, relationship-building and conflict management skills that increase revenues, decrease the high cost of conflict  and build  strong working relationships .

Our skilled specialists will:
  • Help your organization build a highly effective negotiation competency and culture which translates into increased revenue and strong business relationships.
  • Train and prepare your sales teams for sales presentations
  • Develop high impact, customized learning systems to develop advanced skills and powerful techniques in negotiation, dispute resolution and relationship management.
  • Provide advice, strategy, guidance and representation in live negotiation challenges
  • Facilitate, mediate and advise in dispute resolution
  • Create a culture of collaboration by guiding and training teams and divisions to engage in dialogue, to negotiate and to partner
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Raphael Lapin

Raphael Lapin, a Harvard trained negotiation and communication specialist. He is adjunct professor of law at Whittier School of Law in Southern California and visiting professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Raphael trains and advises Fortune 500 companies and governments around the world and is the author of "Working with Difficult People" (DK Penguin Essential Managers Series)
Working with Difficult People
 Learn more about Raphael Lapin's book, "Working with Difficult People" by clicking on the image above