- Reframe anxiety as excitement.
Preparation for trial, a temporary hearing or a negotiation often comes with anxiety. A nervous, anxiety filled person can make costly mistakes. Try to reframe anxiety and nervousness into excitement, thus transforming your feelings to excitement, which can turn a minus into a plus. Another way to put it, turn the butterflies in your stomach into fighter jets flying in formation making them work for you, not against you. This tactic increases authentic feelings of excitement and improves your performance.
- Anchor the negotiations with a draft agreement.
The person who makes the first offer in a negotiation is likely to sway the discussion in his or her favor. First offers tend to serve as powerful anchors (anchoring bias), even for experienced professional negotiators. You can make an even bigger impact by opening substantive negotiations with a draft of the agreement, in the form of a MSA or court order. By having a written draft, the lawyers (and the judge if you are in court) are working off of your document and your proposal, rather than your counterpart’s.
- Draw on the power of silence.
In negotiations we tend to rush in to fill any uncomfortable silences that arise with persuasion techniques and counter-arguments. That can be a mistake, according to Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School professor Guhan Subramanian. After your counterpart speaks, allowing a few moments of silence can give you time to fully absorb what he just said. “Silence gives you the ability to dampen your instincts for self-advocacy and amplifies your instinct to listen,” according to Subramanian. Silence can also help you defuse your own tendency toward anchoring bias. If your counterpart drops an outrageous anchor, “your stunned silence will far more effectively defuse the anchor than heaps of protesting would,” says Subramanian.
- Ask for advice. Professional negotiators often assume that asking the other party for advice will convey weakness, inexperience, or both.
But in fact, in one recent study, participants rated partners who asked them for advice to be more competent than partners who didn’t ask for advice. When we ask of advice, we flatter the adviser and boost his self-confidence, the researchers found. So, consider taking opportunities to ask you counterpart for advice when you truly need it. Not only are you likely to benefit from the advice, but you may strengthen the relationship in the process.
- Put a fair offer to the test with final-offer arbitration (FOA). How can you come to a settlement that’s fair to both sides in an adversarial negotiation where one or both sides are making unreasonable offers and counter-offers? One promising but underused tool is final-offer arbitration (FOA). In FOA, each party submits its best and final offer to an arbitrator, who could have been the mediator if both sides agree. The arbitrator must select either of the two offers and not any other value or variation thereof. Parties may not appeal the arbitrator’s decision. When parties agree to use FOA, their offers typically become reasonable, as they now have an incentive to impress the arbitrator with their reasonableness.