March 2017
Raphael Lapin

Negotiation, Mediation and Litigation-Avoidance Specialists Since 1995

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


Often, in a negotiation, neither party has a process or purpose that is guiding them. Each reacts to the other, which usually causes the discussions to deteriorate into an unproductive and inefficient cycle of reaction and counter-reaction. The three techniques outlined in this March '17 edition of NEGOTIATION STRATEGIES, used in sequence, provide a solid and effectual process with which to lead your negotiations with purpose. 
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
On occasion, as part of a client engagement, we might do an "audit" where we will observe our clients as they conduct a live negotiation. During these sessions, we are always struck by the same thing. This "thing" grates on our ears like a beautiful piece of opera sung atrociously off key. It assaults our senses mercilessly. It turns an elegant waltz into a grotesque and awkward stomp. What is this "thing" you ask? It is excessive, relentless, redundant, purposeless and aimless talking.

Often, negotiators perceive the negotiation process as being to persistently assert their demands, declare their positions and impose their proposals without any consideration of the other side's concerns or needs. They think that the more insistent they become the better negotiators they are. They believe that the only way to "win" is to continuously and repetitively state their positions without allowing their opponent to get a word in edge-wise. Oddly, they don't seem to realize that they are engaged in a terribly inefficient and unproductive process at best and a downright destructive one at worst. 

Truly effective negotiators actually do remarkably little talking. They listen very carefully, ask purposeful questions and demonstrate immaculate understanding. They are composed, relaxed and almost conversational.

Following are three techniques, when managed in tandem, will guide you towards an efficient, effective, purposeful and productive negotiation process.
Begin With the Other Side.

Although we typically feel compelled to get our position out first, this is a futile first move. Just as you are anxious to get your thoughts out, so are they. While you are talking they are preoccupied with what they wish to say and are not listening.

A good negotiator resists this urge and begins with the other side. You may start by saying: "I would be interested to hear some of your initial thoughts, please go ahead and share them with me". In addition to getting them to talk, you have the advantage of knocking them off balance by acting inconsistently with their negative expectation that you will just assert your demands and dig your heels into your positions.

This first move will go a long way in setting a positive tone for the negotiations.
Expand Dialogue with Good Questioning.

Many negotiators will propose solutions prematurely which usually results in rejection. For the negotiations to develop, evolve and mature, the dialogue of negotiation needs to occur. During this crucial phase of the negotiation, information will be uncovered, underlying concerns brought to the surface and hard positions loosened. The fuel for productive dialogue is good questioning - questions are to dialogue what wood is to fire!

Be prepared to question the other side about things like their concerns, interests and constraints. Encourage them to clarify and elaborate. Make sure that during this phase, the other party is feeling accurately heard and understood by paraphrasing what you have understood from them and checking your understanding. Besides important information that will emerge, trust and rapport will also build. 

A paradox of this process is that, contrary to popular belief,  you will be more in control of the negotiation when you question and listen as opposed to when you talk and assert.
Present Your Viewpoint with Succinct Clarity.

Only after you have listened to them adequately, are you ready to present your point of view.

Many negotiators start rambling purposelessly when arguing their case. Few people have patience or attention span to listen to an ongoing, pointless monologue and will allow their minds to wander while you attempt to make your point. This kind of aimless talking contributes greatly to the inefficiency of the process. Paradoxically, brief, sharp-focused clarity is far more compelling and persuasive than any lengthy discourse. 

If you find yourself rambling, know that you are off track. Stop and take a moment of silence as you retrench and gather your thoughts. Then present them in a cogent, focused and concise way while maintaining a confident friendly tone and a relaxed posture. Make sure that every word you utter is for a purpose in the negotiation.

Often, in a negotiation, neither party has a process that is guiding them. Each reacts to the other, which usually causes the discussions to deteriorate into an unproductive and inefficient cycle of reaction and counter-reaction. By having a process with which to guide the negotiations, you will have the power in those talks -not in a domineering manipulative way - but in a very authentic way. 

The three techniques outlined in this column, used in sequence, provide a solid and effectual process with which to manage and guide your negotiations with purpose.

Practice them until you develop an intuitive proficiency. This will surely put you well on your way to be counted among the most highly effective negotiators.

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