Threats Won’t Get the Deal Done

Your client and the other party need to come to an agreement to resolve a dispute. As the old saying goes, you’ll attract more flies with honey than vinegar. Threatening the other party will just heighten the tension, make the other side defensive and probably angry. It’s not an approach you want to rely on to get a deal done.  Before getting down to business, if it’s possible, have a real conversation with the other attorney and party before asking them for anything.

Most of us have a good sense when someone’s trying to be manipulative, so try to find common ground and connect with them before attempting to help your client get its way. Show some similarities with the other person but don’t be pushy or overly personal.

It doesn’t hurt to be nice, and it should help. Smile back, dress well and give the other party a sincere compliment. Actively listen, make eye contact, expressive your openness through your words, tone, and body language while showing confidence in yourself.

Persuasion isn’t manipulation or “strong arming” someone into submission. Present yourself as someone others are willing to listen to. One way to do that is through reciprocity, according to an article in Lifehacker. It cites Dr. Robert Cialdini’s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, as stating studies have shown that if someone receives something (practically anything) from you, they’re likely to feel indebted to you and give something back to you to relieve themselves of that debt (whether real or imagined). Mutual reciprocity should get the deal done.

Be the first one to give something in the discussion, preferably something unexpected. Of the issues of concern to your client, what’s the easiest to sacrifice? Of the issues that you think concern the other party, what are the most important? Is there a way to match the two? Even if this doesn’t get the deal done at least, you’ll get the other side’s attention and possibly start some momentum towards a resolution.

Try to appreciate the other side’s mindset. What’s their perspective on the dispute? Mirror their behavior (but not too much) which should make them feel more comfortable, then put forward a solution that might be of interest based on their perspective. If they say something positive, reinforce that.

If they say something negative, try to address their concerns. What are their interests in the dispute? How does your offer benefit those interests? Don’t tell them they’re wrong or argue with them. They’ll just get defensive and close up. Focus on the things they say that can help you. Show you’re listening and want to hear them out and emphasize what you both agree on.

Unless your client can actually say or do something that will genuinely, legitimately and efficiently rob the other party of its ability to pursue the dispute or negatively impact your client, stay away from threats. There needs to be some element of trust between the parties for a conflict to be resolved, and it’s hard to trust someone threatening you.