Is Walking Out The Best Mediation or Negotiation Strategy?

| January 17, 2012 | 0 Comments
'Walk away from me...' photo (c) 2009, Valentin Ottone - license:

The are times in mediation and negotiation when one party stops responding to the offers or counter offers of the other party and walks out. This halts the mediation / negotiation process and any associated discussions.

Unfortunately, way too many people relish showing up with walking out as their first option. It seems that their approach is to go to the mediation with their heart set on showing their client how tough they are by dramatically walking out of the mediations, thereby ending the negotiations. The misconception is that this tactic somehow scares the other side or will get them to cave and agree to a deal which would not have been available otherwise. Unfortunately, this strategy may have the exact opposite impact.

Often times, the party who prematurely runs out on the negotiations, does so to their own detriment. If you don’t believe it, just think back on the last time you ever solved a problem by turning your back on the other person. Like it or not, in litigation, mediation or negotiation, the other side has to be our partner in working toward a settlement agreement. Without them (and on the flip side of that coin, without us), there would not be a settlement. Therefore, walking out should never be the first tool utilized in negotiation.

To avoid this problem and prevent such a mistake, we must explore the reasons behind going to mediation in the first place. Here are just a few reasons people goto mediation and/or start negotiations:

1. Some go to mediation or start negotiations to have the satisfaction of walking out
2. Some do it to scare the heck out of the other side (The Shock & Awe approach)
3. Others go to the mediation or start negotiations to try their best to settle the case

Which approach do you think will have the better chance of success? Which approach do you think will, at the end of the day, have the higher level of client satisfaction?

After all, we can’t settle a case when one party turns its back on the process. We also can’t have an open and honest discussion, when one side is doing its best to scare the other side into submission or refusing to discuss their perspective. The real question is if we are intent on walking out, why spend the time and resources to go to mediation? Wouldn’t refusal to mediate send the same message? If you don’t want to talk or want to walk, wouldn’t it be cheaper to do it without paying a mediator and spending the day in negotiations?

Just ask yourselves, how many times have you walked out on a mediation or negotiation and had a satisfied client, at the end of the day or at the end of the case?

To improve your results and your clients’ level of satisfaction, consider not walking out of the mediation until all settlement possibilities have been exhausted. Help the mediator by using creative approaches to come up with solutions to the problem you face. Don’t compound the problem with the idea that you are there to walk out or to do your best to shut down communication. To do this:

1. Go in with an open mind.

2. Put yourselves in the other party’s shoes.

3. If you feel insulted by the other side’s offer or counter-offer or somethign they say, consider a meaningful move  or statement on your part to see how things progress.

4. Push the negotiations forward and not backward.

5. While walking out is something that may have to be done, it should be the last resort and not the first option. 

This approach is much more likely to result in a successful mediation or negotiation. I’ve seen it in action many times. It works and provides a higher likelihood of settlement and client satisfaction.

Shahrad Milanfar

Related posts:

The KLT needed to avoid failure in mediation

How to argue on the internet and in mediation

Five reasons why preparing for mediation is as important as trial preparation

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Category: Conflict Resolution, Mediate, Mediation, Mediation Blog, Mediation Courses, Mediation Training, Mediator, Negotiation, Settlement, Shahrad Milanfar, Uncategorized

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