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Negotiation Tip: Don’t run out of time!

January 25, 2011

Have you ever been close to that hard-negotiated resolution only to run out of the final crucial
“crunch”  time that is always necessary to close the foreseeable gap between opposing-party “final” positions? 

Or worse, have your had your resolution essentially in hand, but without the necessary time to completely and accurately memorialize your resolution? 

Running out of time to completely close negotiation or document a resolution occurs much more than you might suspect.  And, sometimes an almost-successful party never even learns just how close they came because the other party prefers to simply adjourn rather than to foreseeably work overtime or miss the last plane. 

One of the crucial goals of any mediation  is to properly record any mutually agreed resolution.  A full “why” subject for another day, but suffice it to say, failing to obtain a fully complete and valid mediation settlement agreement after achieving  resolution is like winning the Master’s golf tournament and forgetting to sign your score card.

But running out of time for documenting your resolution is far less common than resolution lost simply because the parties wasted so much time in meaningless early stages of negotiation, that there was insufficient time remaining for the final stages of negotiation where a real resolution could be achieved.

You wouldn’t knowingly run out of gas, would you?  You wouldn’t knowing take a wrong road?  Then why run out of time in a mediation setting when you know in advance the total time allocated to all of your tasks at mediation?

Good trial attorneys use a “timing chart” of their planned use of the total time allocated to them for the presentation of their portion of any trial.  Why not consider the same for planning your next mediation?

Consider also using a separate timing chart to track actual negotiations of the issues.  And, to plan your responses to negotiations so as not to lose the opportunity for your greatest success in the final stages.  After all, your negotiation should really be about where you want to go, not where the opposition wants you to go.

With advance planning and proper mediation timing charts you can easily stay on your planned course to make sure you have sufficient time allocated properly to your opening. your negotiation, your closing and your settlement agreement.

Keep an eye on the clock, your goals and your charts and you won’t run out of time.

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