Resolving a matter is always worth at least a try. There are a number of reasons why a case didn’t settle and not trying to negotiate is reason number one. The other party, for whatever reason, may be very negative and difficult to deal with but don’t give up yet. Psychology Today has some suggestions for negotiating with difficult people.
Meet in Private
A difficult person may be easier to deal with in person, in private. Out of a need to appear to be in control, compete and win if the person has an audience it may bring out the worst in him or her.
Take Away the Home Court Advantage
Try to meet in a neutral location (such as conference room or coffee shop instead of in their office) to reduce their sense of dominance the person may feel when speaking with you on their own turf.
Be Assertive and Professional in Communication
The difficult person may show more respect for a person who shows strength and be more receptive to one who communicates with assertiveness.
When you meet ask questions so you can determine the other party’s goals and based on those answers come up with possible solutions both sides can live with. If the person has a reputation for saying “no” then ask open ended questions that can’t be answered that way. Try not to give the other person the opportunity to be negative. Learn about the other party’s motives and needs and explore potential solutions.
This isn’t about winning and losing. It’s about a solution that fits both parties. Let the other person know that you are in control. Be prepared to offer possible solutions. Many difficult individuals work the best with those who present themselves from a position of strength. They’re more willing to talk to and work with a person who takes the initiative and offer cooperation to someone showing they can help themselves.
Attorneys are problem solvers. If you’re dealing with another attorney, although you both represent different clients, the other sides’ problems are your problems. You’re trying to find a way to solve their problems, which would benefit everyone.
Focus on Consequences
If you can effectively state the negative consequences of saying “no” it may make the person think harder about the issue and at least start the shift from obstruction to cooperation.
Patience is a Virtue
Maybe the time isn’t right for negotiations. The other party may think they’re in a great position but if damaging evidence is revealed in discovery or motions have been denied, perhaps the other party will be more flexible.
Given the high cost of litigation in money, energy and time, an attempt at negotiations should be made. If progress isn’t made mediation may help in educating the obstinate party about the benefits of a resolution short of a full blown trial and that settlement may be reached. You may get to “yes” instead of just hearing “no.”