March 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 negotiators decide the outcome of a negotiation before negotiations begin.They are then bewildered as to why their counterpart does not find their beloved proposal quite as dazzling as they see it!

Join me as I provide you with a more effective negotiation process in this March  '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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With Best Wishes 
Raphael Lapin

Many negotiators decide the outcome of a negotiation before negotiations begin They formulate a solution from which they won't budge, even before the dialogue and information development phase occurs. They are so committed to their own prematurely devised solution, that any new and valuable knowledge that they may learn during the negotiation falls upon their self-inflicted deaf ears. They are then bewildered as to why their counterpart does not find their beloved proposal quite as dazzling as they see it!
A poignant example of this kind of blunder from current affairs, are the proximity talks in Geneva, Switzerland, between the Syrian rebels and the Assad Regime.  As reported by Foreign Policy magazine recently, the Assad regime's foreign minister stipulated that a discussion of political transition and regime change is not on the table. US Secretary of State, John Kerry responded that the regime's foreign minister is trying to derail the talks, and requested that Russia pressure them toward a political transition.
Kerry, you see, was clearly guilty of the above blunder. He had already decided what the solution should be, even before the talks began.  His strategy was then trying to exert pressure on the other side to accept his solution. This approach is seldom successful.
If this approach is inefficient, adversarial and seldom leads to sustainable, durable and value-generating accords, then what might be a better way of advancing our negotiations.

An effective negotiation process has two distinct parts to it that need to be implemented sequentially. The first, which is critical, is the information development stage. It is during this phase that crucial learning and understanding about needs, concerns, values and priorities occur. This knowledge is the raw material from which to construct any viable solutions. Any proposals formulated and presented before the information development stage has adequately occurred will be rejected.
Once the information development stage of the negotiation has been successfully implemented, the second part of the negotiation process takes place. This stage is where the parties search for proposal ideas and solutions that jointly address their needs, concerns, values and priorities to the greatest extent possible. Trying to craft proposal ideas before sufficient information development has happened is like trying to build a roof before the house!
This effective approach was clearly well understood by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. In contrast to John Kerry's response to the Assad regime's position that any discussion about a political transition is not on the table, Lavrov kept an open mind. He said, lets first have some productive dialogue and see what ideas emerge from that. It might be federalization, decentralization, a unitary state or some other creative idea. We cannot know until the information development stage has taken place successfully.
Besides demonstrating the skills of a sophisticated negotiator who understands the process brilliantly, he also succeeded in keeping the Assad regime delegates at the table in Geneva.

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