Creating a Positive Environment for Negotiation

When we need to negotiate, there are many things we can do before and in opening the meeting which have a positive impact on the outcome.

First, consider these housekeeping items- location, timing, length of the proposed meeting, comfort of the parties, and your state of mind going into the negotiation.

  •  Choose a neutral location for your negotiation, one that is both private and comfortable. Always give the other party notice about the meeting so they can prepare and gather their thoughts on the issue. Reflection time is important for good problem solving. Supply beverages and possibly snacks if the negotiation is a long  one or will go over a meal time. Turn off cell phones and hold calls while talking. This lets the other party know you are serious about resolving  this  issue. Do not start a negotiation when you are expecting an urgent phone call -this can interrupt the flow of the meeting.
  • A  1-2 hour time frame is reasonable for discussion. If the issue is a “hot” one emotionally, you may only be able to talk for 1 hour without breaking or scheduling another meeting. Sometimes people just need to explain how they feel about something without an expectation that the other party will fix their feelings. After “venting”, they can settle to discussion the solution.
  • Don’t attempt to negotiate when the other party is unwell, tired, or overwhelmed. They will not be in the best mind set to hear out you. Also the heat of emotions makes clear thinking difficult.
  • Consider your mind set going in. Use a positive affirmation such as “We are working out a great resolution for that problem” or “Creative solutions flow easily for solving that issue”. The idea is to approach the issues with a positive mindset which will reflect itself in your “opening statements”, a friendly tone of voice, a neutral choice of words and patience in hearing the other party out.”
  • Be soft on the people and hard on the problem – this phrase is used in dispute resolution to mean that our focus should remain on the problem, not the personalities or our assessment of the people. Be compassionate with the people; this goes a long way in promoting a positive discussion.
  • Know when to bring in help – a mediator, a supervisor, a therapist if necessary.  It is important to ask for help when you need it rather than struggle through with a situation that if beyond your skill level.


Linda Varro
Juntura Mediation and Coaching