July 2016
Raphael Lapin

Negotiation, Mediation and Litigation-Avoidance Specialists Since 1995

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

Building Relationships As We Negotiate

The process that we implement in the negotiation will impact the relationship and ultimately the outcome. A constructive strategy that has procedural integrity, will build sustaining and enduring relationships as we negotiate, while producing optimal and value-generating outcomes. 

In this July '16 edition of N EGOTIATION STRATEGIES,  I intend to share a few elements of a procedural integrity strategy, that if incorporated into your current negotiations, will make a significant and meaningful difference.
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, negotiations and resolving of disputes.

With Best Wishes 
Raphael Lapin
Building Relationships As We Negotiate

Many of us are very cognizant about what we need to negotiate, but few of us are as aware about how we negotiate. The process that we implement in the negotiation will impact the relationship and ultimately the outcome (or impasse).

I compare the process of a negotiation to the foundation of a building: Just as the foundation protects the structural integrity of a building, so too, the effective process in any negotiation protects the integrity of the negotiation structure.  A constructive strategy that has procedural integrity, will build sustaining and enduring relationships as we negotiate, while at the same time, produce optimal and value-generating outcomes.  

An important factor to be aware of when adopting a strategy of procedural integrity is that it is unconditionally constructive.  This means that it can be implemented unilaterally by one party, regardless of the strategy of the other, and still be potently constructive.

Although the topic of procedural integrity is expansive and complex, in this column I intend to share a few elements of procedural integrity that if incorporated into your current negotiations, will make a significant and meaningful difference to the relationship and outcome.

Reliability is the foundation of trust. If I am consistently reliable even in small things, they will be more likely to trust me even in things that may not be easily verifiable. If, on the other hand, I am not seen to be reliable, it will be harder for them to trust me. 

Robert McNamara, the secretary of defense in the Kennedy administration, always made a point of arriving at meetings punctually. His reputation for reliability in all things enhanced his credibility in more serious matters - an important asset for a secretary of defense and for us as negotiators too.

Always make sure to respond to issues, concerns, questions and proposals in a timely fashion. Using delay tactics and playing games to mislead the other party only serves to undermine trust and credibility and is not constructive in the long run.  

Building the other side's confidence in your trustworthiness is unconditionally constructive regardless of how they choose to conduct themselves. It is good for you, the relationship and the outcome.

Often in negotiations we tend to give our own interests more weight and importance than those of our counterpart.  We focus on our own needs and are self-absorbed by them to the total exclusion of the other's.  We assert our positions aggressively without any effort at understanding and acknowledging those of our counterparts. 

If you expect to reconcile your differences with theirs, you must first recognize and acknowledge their interests as legitimate, important to them and worthy of respect, even if initially they appear to threaten your own.

When John Adams was negotiating with Britain for US independence and an end to the revolutionary war in 1786, one of Britain's demands was full compensation for property loss of the loyalists as a result of the war. These were colonial settlers who supported King George lll and fought with the British against the United States army in their battle for independence.  To Adams that request must have sounded preposterous. Why would he reward people who were essentially traitors to the United States cause?!

Being aware of the importance of acknowledging the other side unconditionally, Adams put effort into understanding the British concern. From their perspective they could not be seen as betraying those who are loyal to crown and country. It could potentially send a very wrong message to British subjects.  Once he acknowledged and gave legitimacy to Britain's concern, he was able to resolve their differences by proposing that the individual states (previously the colonies) would be responsible for compensation as part of the negotiated Paris Peace Treaty, but not as an obligation imposed upon the newly formed United States government.

In your negotiations, make sure to really understand the perceptions, concerns and needs of the other side, even if they may seem unreasonable at first. Resist the urge to reject them out of hand.  Do this unconditionally, and you will be leading with procedural integrity while building stronger and more durable relationships with better sustainable outcomes.

Several months ago when travelling from Los Angeles to Denver, all flights were cancelled due to a severe snow storm in Denver.  I had to be in Denver early the next morning for an important client meeting.  The agent at the podium was being attacked by irate passengers who were angry and verbally abusive, as if the bad weather in Denver was somehow her fault.  She was understandably reacting defensively (albeit with professional grace under the pressure) towards the deluge of frustrated passengers but nothing was getting accomplished.

When it was my turn, I said to her: "As I'm watching you, I can't imagine what this sort of situation must be like to deal with, and I am duly impressed with how effectively you seem to be maintaining your composure!"

Her tone immediately changed and she thanked me for appreciating the stress of her situation. Within five minutes, she had me on the first flight out the next morning in a first class seat!

When someone feels appreciated, they will tend to feel more at ease and cooperative. It will allow them to see points they can appreciate about you or your point of view and the relationship will build.

When negotiating, look for opportunities for which you can express sincere appreciation to the other side. It might be about how they are negotiating; their constructive sharing and openness; the merits of their reason and arguments; or solutions and ideas that they might be proposing.

As long as it is genuine and sincere, unconditional appreciation is an important element of procedural integrity that will pave the way for a satisfying negotiation experience resulting in good outcomes and strong, trusting 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