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Negotiation Tips From The Big Bang Theory
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Negotiation Tips From The Big Bang Theory

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Big Bang Theory is one of the most popular shows on CBS, and is a simple testament to my inner geek.  I love the show, the science, and the complicated scientific principles that seem so funny. One reason I believe that the show is so successful is that most of us, in some way, are also inner geeks. Whether in law, medicine, technology or otherwise. I thought I would use some of the Big Bang scenes to demonstrate some negotiation tips.

 

What You Don’t Know About Your Case and Your Situation May Kill You.

In negotiations, information is critical and often times we are negotiating without all the information at hand. It is critical that you try to discover as much information as possible before negotiating.  Otherwise, you may end up with a result that is unfavorable, or worse, you fail to agree, and then later you find out that your case was destroyed by the unfavorable information. In one case, I helped one side learn that they had a major flaw in their case because they were relying on false information. By applying the information, the party was able to avoid a disastrous trial by working out a resolution in light of the newly discovered information. Much like in the following episode 0f Big Bang Theory.

 

Sometimes To Make Progress You Have to Go With the Least Objectional Alternative.

In many negotiations, you may consider different alternatives. None seem to be a good solution to the problem.  For example, you are defending a case that has, in your mind, no merit. Do you fight the case?  Offer a small sum?  Offer a reasonable sum that you think buy your peace but violate your principles? No solution may be perfect.  However, as long as you have thought of several alternatives, and none seems to fit perfectly, then should choose the one that is the least objectionable. It is better than doing nothing.

 

Sometimes the Simplest of Solutions Can Work.

All too often in negotiations, we get caught up in the complex solutions:  Payment of money, letter of recomendation, unemployment benefits, etc. But we often ignore the simplest of solutions such as basic human contact and human interaction. I recently had an employment case where the plaintiff felt hurt because she had been laid off — and she believed it to be unfair. The money that was being offered was appropriate to settle a case that would likely end up losing due to a legitimate business decision. Yet the case wouldn’t settle. Once we decided that the joint session with the supervisor, the employee and myself (without attorneys) was something that could be achieved, the supervisor explained himself, the employee explained her position, and the supervisor expressed how sorry she was that the employee had to be terminated (laid off) after ten years of great service. The case then settled for the sum that had been offered. Sometimes, a simple reboot of the relationship can do the trick.

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Steve Mehta
Steve Mehta
Steve Mehta has been frequently asked to mediate cases that involve a variety of complex and emotional issues, including elder abuse, medical malpractice, real estate, personal injury, employment, probate, and business matters. Since 1999, he has mediated several thousand cases.

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