Being involved in a legal action is inherently stressful. For many experienced attorneys, litigation is just another day at the office. For clients, a lawsuit may be one of the most stressful events in their lives. How your client, and the party on the other side, deal with stress may help you become a more effective negotiator
Understanding stressors may help you better understand your own client, the other party and how both respond to negotiations. Also, a client’s ability to have empathy (seeing and understanding the other party’s perspective) with the other party can be critical to successfully negotiating a settlement. The opposing party won’t settle a claim to help your client resolve his or her problems, but if you can package a settlement in a way that satisfies at least some of the opposing party’s concerns, you have a much greater chance of success.
Stress affects men and women differently
How someone responds to stress varies by the individual and whether they’re male or female, based on recent research done in Europe. While stressed males tend to become more self-centered, less able to identify with others and less empathetic, for women the opposite appears to be true.
These are findings of a study carried out with the collaboration of the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) of Trieste, Italy. The study was coordinated by the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Unit of the University of Vienna in Austria and with the help of the University of Freiburg in Germany.
Mediation Can Cause Major Stress, Outlets Are Important
Individuals normally cope with stress by trying to reduce the internal load of resources being used or by seeking external support. Researchers expected test subjects under stress would become more egocentric and less empathetic because taking a self-centered perspective reduces the emotional/cognitive load from stress. They found that was true with males but not females.
- One explanation may be that women receive more external support when they are able to interact better with others.
- The more they need help, due to stress, the more they apply social strategies.
- On a physiological level, oxytocin is a hormone connected with social behaviors and a previous study found that under stress women had higher levels than men.
If negotiations or mediation is particularly stressful, it may be easier to have a female client understand where the opposing party is coming from than a male client, so be prepared for that. Your esteemed colleague representing the other side may be facing the same issues (since you’re so empathetic, you already knew that).