The Mediator as Negotiation Advisor: Team versus Individual Interests

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If you’ve ever been part of an organization team preparing to negotiate an agreement with another organization, you probably have faced this frustrating task:

  • Aligning your individual interests , other team members’ interests, and those of your company as a whole.

For instance, imagine that you’re the sales VP for an automobile manufacturer and that you’re in charge of the corporate team responsible for negotiating a contract for the sale of next year’s models to a large car-rental firm.

As sales VP, you want to boost sales by offering as many models as possible. To streamline the production process, the production representative wants to offer as few models as possible.

The finance VP doesn’t care how many models are offered but wants an accelerated payment schedule to maximize this year’s cash flow. Meanwhile, the legal representative wants contract terms that will maximize your company’s protection in the event the buyer declares bankruptcy.

How can you coordinate these different interests while ensuring that the team meets its overall corporate goal of achieving a good deal?

  • An obvious, though infrequently used, source of expertise can help: a professional mediator.

In a recent article, “Beyond Blame: Choosing a Mediator,” Stephen B. Goldberg advised negotiators involved in a dispute to seek out an interest based mediator to assist both sides in reaching a resolution.

Here, the Program on Negotiation will explain why it can be equally useful to engage a mediator to assist your team in negotiations – a lesson that was learned through Stephen B. Goldberg’s personal experience as a team adviser in a complex deal.

As you’ll see, when it comes to team negotiations, mediators can be just as valuable in helping one party prepare for and carry out talks as they are in their traditional role of helping multiple parties reach a negotiated agreement.


Download the FREE special report from the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, Mediation Secrets for Better Business Negotiations: Top Techniques from Mediation Training Experts, and you will discover mediation techniques for selecting the right mediator, understand the mediation process and learn how to engage the mediator to ensure a good outcome.


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