September 2015
Raphael Lapin



10940 WILSHIRE BOULEVARD, Suite 1600

Tel: 888-964-8884

Dear Clients and Friends



Improve your negotiated outcomes substantially by understanding the dual role that highly effective negotiators play. In this SEPTEMBER '15 edition of NEGOTIATION STRATEGIES we will teach you more about that role that many negotiators neglect.


For your reading convenience, we also distill this into a brief lessons learned at the end of the column.


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Learn more About Lapin Negotiation Strategies  and ways in which we can make a high impact and a demonstrable and substantive difference to your organization.


With Best Wishes 


Raphael Lapin


When we are engaged in a negotiation, we see our primary role as that of a negotiator. We are a party to the negotiation, and as such, we do our utmost to assert our positions, demands and needs in the best way we know how.

Often, despite our best efforts, our negotiations fail, or meander along a lengthy unproductive path resulting in eroded relationships and sub-optimal outcomes. To mitigate the chances of a failed or sub-optimal negotiation, we need to learn to play a dual role at the negotiation table - both that of negotiator and that of mediator!

Consider the July 2012 collective bargaining negotiations between the NHL (National Hockey League) and the NHLPA (NHL Players' Association) for a renewed contract  before the September 15th expiration of the existing contract. One of the more aggressive demands of the NHL was to reduce players' revenue shares from  57% to 43%, a proposal that understandably was not well received by the NHLPA. 

The negotiators were unable to reach any agreement  at all which eventually resulted in a 113 day lockout! 

It was only when federal mediator Scot Beckenbaugh brokered a creative deal, trading long term pension improvements for short term salary cuts, that agreement was reached. The players returned to the ice on January 19, 2013 for an abbreviated season.

If any of the negotiators had the skills to be able to act as mediators to their own dispute in addition to being negotiators, they could have accomplished what Beckenbaugh did in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost. 

Following are just a few of the qualities and skills needed to be able to act as a mediator in negotiations that you are also a party to.
Trust and Rapport

A survey conducted by Stephen Goldberg, law professor at Northwestern Law School, concluded that veteran mediators believe that establishing trust and rapport with the parties is more important than effective techniques. 

Trust is established by the capacity to listen to all parties authentically and to be able to demonstrate immaculate understanding (even if you do not agree). They must be assured that their concerns are being taken seriously. 

When you are a party to the negotiations, suspend your impulse to assert your own demands, and put effort into  listening to the other side and imagine that you are a neutral mediator rather than a party to the negotiation.  Work to really understand their point-of-view. This small improvement will make a huge difference to the level of trust - a vital component to any negotiation, without which parties will not open up and reveal their true interests.

I have observed countless negotiations where hours of unproductive talk occurs without any output or results. We call this the "Dialogue of the Deaf" where everyone is talking but no one is listening.

Good mediators have a very deliberate process and manage that process vigilantly. They are skilled at deflecting attacks and defusing emotions as they reframe destructive contaminated and toxic language into positive constructive statements of needs and concerns. They know what information they need and the appropriate line of questioning  to pursue, so as to elicit that information. They make certain that the discussion is productive and purposeful at all times.

When you are negotiating, make sure to have a process that you follow so that you are leading the negotiations rather than reacting. Have an acute awareness of what you are doing in the negotiation and why you are doing it. If things are becoming aimless and unproductive, ask yourself what element needs to be introduced to get things back on track and then execute and implement immediately.

Never allow the negotiations to get ahead  or away from you.  Having a process in any negotiation will give you power in a very subtle, yet highly effective way. 

A good mediator, having rigorously uncovered all parties' needs and concerns, will explore together with the parties, innovative and creative ideas that could potentially meet those needs. She will work patiently and persistently to search for solutions that open up new possibilities and approaches to old problems. It is this creativity that typically causes breakthroughs in otherwise difficult and seemingly intractable negotiations, and allows for mutually satisfying resolutions.

As a negotiator, adopt a mediator mindset and search for new and creative ideas that meet the other parties' needs as well as your own. If the other party feels they can trust you, and that you are taking them seriously, they will be very open to listening to your ideas, and perhaps even building on them, as you collaborate on a workable solution.

If as a negotiator, you see yourself in a dual role of mediator as well, and you build trust and rapport, introduce and manage the process, and generate creative ideas and solutions as a mediator does, you will certainly improve your negotiated outcome substantially!

About1About Lapin Negotiation Strategies 


Lapin Negotiation Strategies 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.
  • 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