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Expect the Unexpected: Everything is a Strategy.

June 19, 2014

The usual pattern of negotiation ensues. The mediator makes his or her introduction. Private caucuses prepare the parties for negotiation. The negotiation begins.

Offers and counteroffers pass from one side to the other. The demands inch down, the offers inch up.  Concessions are made.

Finally, one side gives up a significant term for settlement, which causes a big shift on the other side.

The parties close in on a practical range of settlement.

It’s pretty routine. And they get to terms.

Or maybe they don’t.

What if suddenly one side changes its mind late in the game?

Or changes the routine?

Or takes a detour from the plan?

What if a person suddenly rejects a deal that is nearly done?

Or backtracks and puts a term back on the table that was off the table before?

Or now starts trading across issues (often called logrolling)?

Or just has a tantrum that changes the dynamics of the negotiation?

Maybe suddenly there are new and different demands.

Suddenly, the negotiation is wide open again.

Whether these changes simply reflect the anxiety of the situation, or someone’s unhappiness with where the negotiation is going and/or her fear that a mistake is being made…

Or whether this is actually a planned strategy of negotiation…,

The negotiator facing these changes must not be surprised or caught off guard.

Be prepared.

Expect the unexpected.

Assume that everything is a strategy in order to maintain your buoyancy in the changing tide.

Ultimately it is.


David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For further information, visit his website at .


From → Mediation

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