Jan Frankel Schau  



 Problem Solver. Mediator. Author. Ally.   

California Daily Journal Top 50 Neutral 2013  

ADR Services, Inc.  


                                                                                     Volume 75 January, 2014

     This year's theme for Settlement Strategies, a Monthly Newsletter published exclusively by Jan Frankel Schau for the benefit of client's and friends, will be "Negotiation Skills".  Ms. Schau is always happy to have your feedback and comments and permits republication with attribution.                 


Negotiators refer to a phenomenon known as "attribution bias" which suggests that if a position is set forth by someone already known or identified as your adversary, you or your clients will automatically devalue it.  It is simply human nature to discredit a position, even if it is entirely valid, when it is stated as fact by your opponent in negotiation. 

In the simple example of buying and selling a car, if the seller says the asking price is $50,000., the buyer will generally devalue that by 10-20% and assume it can be purchased for "something in the $40,000 range".  In a litigated case, if one party asserts that the evidence will indisputably support a particular conclusion, the other party will be dubious or raise a dispute with certainty to contradict the initial assertion.

One way that attribution bias can be avoided in mediation is to have a neutral endorse your position and communicate it to the other side.  Here's how it works.  If you have a case that you think has a value of "about $100,000.00", if you can get the mediator to buy in to your evaluation and articulate that the offer (or demand) is based upon her evaluation of the damage claims and odds on liability, instead of counsel in the other room, you have provided a neutral opinion, which both sides have agreed to accept in advance as being unbiased, and you can avoid the automatic cries of bad faith negotiation.  This works equally well with facts.  Instead of stating that you believe a certain fact, ask your neutral to inform the other side that the fact asserted is "believable" or "credible" or "convincing" to her.  This will go a long way towards breaking the initial biases and giving you and your client the edge or advantage in the remaining negotiations.

Good Luck!  


Jan Frankel Schau  


 P.S.    I want to invite you to a party:   On February 20, 2014, the Beverly Hills Bar Association's Labor & Employment Section is holding a "no host networking" event at the Crescent Hotel in Beverly Hills.  Contact me for details.  I'd love to see you there! 


Jan Frankel Schau




To Schedule a Mediation    

Contact Case Manager:  Eve Thorstens:  310-201-0010   

Jan Schau's Direct Dial:  818. 986.9876


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Author, "View from the Middle of the Road:   

A Mediator's Perspective on Life, Conflict and Human Interaction"

(Author House, 2013)


Purhcase "The View from the Middle of the Road" 



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