7 Elements of Negotiation, Part 7: Commitment

7 Elements of Negotiation

Part 7: Commitment

Mission accomplished. As a negotiator, you closed a deal and you are better off. As the mediator, you helped both sides explore the issues and then find a suitable, acceptable option.

The last part of the of the seven elements should not be passed over or forgotten just because you are at the finish line or even feel you have already crossed it. Making sure the agreement reached is realistic and that both sides can keep their end of it is crucial to the process. If there is not a legitimate chance of either of the parties being able to be committed, they will just end up back at the mediation table or even in court.

The best example I can give is a mediation between a debt collection agency and the person who owes the debt. If the person owing the debt agrees to pay $1,000 a month to the agency, but also has to pay $800 in rent and takes in $1,800 a month in salary that would mean the person has no money left to eat… or do anything else for that matter!

What do you do as the mediator? A good tool out of the ‘mediator’s toolbox’ to use can be reality testing. Ask questions such as:
“Is this something you think you can stick with?”
“Given the situation, do you think that can be done?”
“Can you afford this on your salary?”
“Only you know if you can stick with this plan, what do you think?”
“Do you want to take a little time to think about it?”

The questions can also be asked to the other party as well:
“Is this something you think he/she can commit to?”
‘What will happen if they do not hold up their end of the deal?”

These questions can help slow down or pause the negotiation to help everyone take a breath to see if the terms are something that each can stick with.

Remember, commitments are not only what people will do, but it can also state what they won’t do. Making sure both sides can commit to the agreement ensures that the time and effort everyone has dedicated to the mediation is not wasted by agreeing to something that is not realistic.

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