What is the outcome that you really want?
Could be "For both of us to have good relationship
with our children; for us to have a reasonable relationship, one day we may become
friends; and for both
of us to have a reasonable (or sustained?) financial and
social situation.". Things like "to get the
best possible deal" is not a good outcome statement
as it tends to be read in a I win-you lose context.
the negotiation with establishing a common outcome!
Discuss options so that both parties get what they want,
see it as finding a solution to a joint problem.
people from problem ("ignore" your feelings
towards her, during the negotiations. It is OK to be angry, upset, ... at
her, but that will not help solving anything!)
find out what she may want (or wanted before you
introduced the idea of a common outcome!) - Use 1-2-3 pos below! If you have a friend that will support
you, ask him/her to play the role of your ex-wife and set-up a role-play.
communication - Recognise and acknowledge her feelings
but without necessarily justifying them, e.g.
"You're upset!", "I see that you are upset!" but NOT ".... and I think you're
starts yelling at you, do break in early (and recognise
& acknowledge), do not let her go on and on! See
first part of "pacing" below. Keep a steady
tone of voice -ideally matching hers (without making it
sound funny!)- with a lowering tone of voice at the end
of the sentence, that tends to calm people! You can not
get through to people when they are in their emotions,
they must be calm. They will not be calm until they feel
that their feelings have been acknowledged (not
necessarily justified!) and feel that they are listened
do these practices and when you prepare (and start the negotiation!),
RELAX! Sit down comfortably, feet firm on
the floor, hands in your lap (no arms crossed!), close
your eyes (and ears), take a deep breath and hold while
counting to four, then exhaust. Breathe normally for a
little while, then take another deep breath, etc. ...
(step up): What does it mean, what is the intent, what is
Chunk down (step down): Can that intent be satisfied in
any other way?
Example: Two kids are fighting for the one and only pumpkin. Bad solution: Mother splits pumpkin in two
Good solution: Mother asks kids what they want the
pumpkin for, one answers "to make a Halloween
mask", the other "to make a cake using the
fruit meat". Solution: Carve out the fruit meat give
to kid 2 and give empty shell to kid 1.
to handle someone's emotion is to say it for them, and it
is OK to over-emphasise (they will tell you if you got it wrong!). Do NOT include ANY of own point of
the contents (what is the negotiation about)
2. Go to
position 2 (the other party), experience the person (thinking, feeling,
wants, ...) as if you are that person
(i.e. I am, I think, I feel, I want). Get the other parties' truth.
2nd and 3rd positions
pos = You
2nd pos = Her
3rd pos = Observer
three chairs so that two are opposite each other and the
third facing those two (so that they form a
"T"). Pos 1 and 2 are at the ends of the top
bar of the T, 3rd pos at the bottom of the T.
1st pos, picture yourself talking/discussing with her,
find out what you feel, think, want, etc.
Move (physically) to 2nd position, "step into
her" and sense what she feels, thinks, wants, etc.
What did you learn from that?
Move (physically) to 3rd position, Picture you and her
sitting on the other two chairs, What can you see that
you didn't before?
Repeat 1-2-3 as many times as you like. Whenever you see, feel, sense, something about the situation, consider what
can you do with that information.
Focus on interests and intentions rather than behaviour.
It is easy to get drawn into winning points and
condemning behaviour, but really nobody wins in these
sorts of situations.
A wise and durable agreement will take in community and
ecological interests. A mutually-satisfying solution will
be based on a dovetailing of interests, a win-win, not a
win-lose model. So what is important is the problem and
not the people, the intentions not the behaviour, the
interests of the parties not their positions.
It is also essential to have an evidence procedure that
is independent of the parties involved. If the
negotiation is framed as a joint search for a solution,
it will be governed by principles and not pressure. Yield
only to principle, not pressure.
There are some specific ideas to keep in mind while negotiating. Do not make an immediate counter-proposal
immediately after the other side has made a proposal.
This is precisely the time when they are least interested
in your offering. Discuss their proposal first. If you disagree, give your reasons
first. Saying you disagree
immediately is a good way to make the other person deaf
to your next few sentences. (i.e. do not do this!)
All good negotiators use a lot of questions. In fact two
good negotiators will often start negotiating over the
number of questions. "I've answered three of your questions, now you answer some of
Questions give you time to think, and they are an
alternative to disagreement. It is far better to get the
other person to see the weakness in his position by
asking him questions about it rather than by telling him
the weaknesses you perceive.
Good negotiators also explicitly signal their questions.
They will say something like "May I ask you a
question about that?". By doing so, they focus the
attention of the meeting on the answer and make it
difficult for the person questioned to evade the point if
he has agreed to answer the question.
would seem that the more reasons you give for your point
of view the better. Phrases like "the weight of the
argument" seem to suggest it is good to pile
arguments on the scales until it comes down on your side.
In fact, the opposite is true. The fewer reasons you give, the better, because a strong chain is only as
strong as its weakest link. A weak argument dilutes a
strong one, and if you are drawn into defending it, you
are on poor ground. Beware of a person who says "Is
that your only argument?". If you have a good one,
say "Yes". Do not get drawn into giving another, necessarily weaker
one. The follow up may be
"Is that all?". If you take this bait you will
just give him ammunition. Hopefully, if the negotiation
is framed as a joint search for a solution, this sort of
trick will not occur.
Finally, you could use the as-if frame and play the
devil's advocate to test the argument ("No, I
don't really think this is going to work, it all seems
too flimsy for me..."). If other people agree with you, you know that there is still work to be
they argue, all is well.
- Establish your limits in the negotiation.
- Consider what else can you negotiate about (other things to throw in during the
During the negotiation
1. Establish rapport
2. Be clear about your outcome and the evidence for
it. Elicit outcomes of the other participants together
with their evidence.
3. Frame the negotiations as a joint search for a
4. Clarify major issues and obtain agreement on a
large frame. Dovetail outcomes, step up if necessary to
find a common outcome. Check that you have congruent
agreement of all parties to this common outcome.
5. Break the outcome down to identify areas of most
and least agreement.
6. Starting with the easiest areas, move to
agreement using these trouble-shooting techniques:
Negotiation going off course -
Conflicting outcomes - Stepping up and
down to common outcome
Uncertainty - Backtrack
Lack of information - As-if
Stalemate - Ask "What would have
to happen for the process to continue?"
7. Backtrack as agreement is reached in each area,
and finish with the most difficult area.
Closing the negotiation
1. Backtrack frame
2. Test agreement and test congruence
3. Future pace (check how this will work in the future)
4. Write agreement down. All participants have a