6 Techniques to Win at Mediation
Mediation is a process of negotiation, with a referee. It is quicker than going all the way to a trial in a court of law, and has many advantages, but it is not easy. The first essential for a good outcome, is a good, experienced mediator, one who is capable of keeping the peace and maintaining a positive momentum. The outcome is up to you and your opponent. However, you must never forget that you have control over only one of the parties to the negotiation – yourself. In order to succeed you need to be a good negotiator. How? It’s complicated, but here are six tips to improve your chances of succeeding in your mediation:
- KNOW YOURSELF. Before the mediation begins, reflect on who you are, how you normally present yourself and how you react when provoked. Be aware of your weak points and determined not to react to having your ‘buttons pushed’. Practice a little mantra in your mind, such as “There he goes again, trying to provoke panic or anger in me!” If you can remember to do this whenever you are attacked, you will have achieved the essential objectivity which will enable you to keep your cool – an absolute essential in any negotiation.
- KNOW YOUR OPPONENT. Know what sort of person your opponent is. Be careful. If it is a soon-to-be-ex, you will have a very personal and probably negative view of him or her. This alone will not serve you well. You need to know who that other person really is and what they may want, really want, from the mediation. This is an essential early step in a negotiation, which is a process that works best when both parties achieve some level of satisfaction in the outcome. I follows, that you need to understand your opponent’s hunger, so you can feed it with concessions that keep the opponent happy without impoverishing you.
- KNOW YOUR GOAL. Come on, you need a really attainable goal for your negotiation. It is highly unlikely (though not impossible) that you will win your personal Lotto. You must really know what the best is that you can hope to achieve. Also, perversely, you need to know what the least is that you will settle for, before you would get up and walk away from the process. Then, somewhere between the two, is the most likely point at which you will attain a resolution of the dispute. Know all three levels. Naturally, you will aim for the ‘First Prize’, but you should also have an eye on the other two levels, because one way or another, you will ultimately settle for one of them, because your opponent will also have goals – which might not weave in comfortably with your own desires. Your job is to make sure that they do!
- KNOW YOUR OPPONENT’S NEEDS. Once you know what you want, you also need to know what the other negotiator wants; again, try to understand the three essential levels – first prize, the walk-away level and in the middle, the area or ‘zone’ of probable settlement. Then, go further. Create a list of ‘treats’, the concessions you can make, that mean a lot to him, but do not represent hugely important losses or expense to you.
- TRADE, DON’T GIVE. Never offer any sort of concession – not even a small one – without asking for something in return. Always couch your proposals, like this: “If you give me X, I shall give you Y.”
There they are. The basic negotiation skills. There are plenty of others – techniques, tactics, and strategies. However, most people do not even know the basics and besides, it will take a lot of practice to get them right, so start practising them at every opportunity. You’ll find that it can be great fun and quite exciting when you suddenly wake up to the fact that you are a negotiator!