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Here is a brief article in the Boston Globe regarding making and responding to offers.  Many litigators consider this approach to be a sound negotiating strategy. Now there is some science to support it.

“NEXT TIME YOU find yourself in a negotiation, don’t just throw out a round number. In a series of experiments, researchers from Columbia University found that offering a precise number—e.g., $4,925 compared to $5,000—resulted in a significantly more deferential counteroffer, due to the perception that a precise opening offer was more reasoned and informed.”

Mason, M. et al., “Precise Offers Are Potent Anchors: Conciliatory Counteroffers and Attributions of Knowledge in Negotiations,” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (forthcoming).



The question that i would ask, is what is the best time to do such an offer.  I would suggest that making a final offer or close to final offer with such precision is much more effective in the litigation context than the early offers.  However, in much of the real world negotiations outside of litigation, having such an offer from the outset might give more credibility to the other side really thinking about why you made the offer so specific.  

You can’t go anywhere without someone texting you today.  For some, text messages are the preferred source of communications.  But how accurate are texts and can we rely on this form of communication?

The reality is that text message, while efficient, is a very flawed method of communicating.  According to longstanding research by Mehrabian, 93% of communication is lost if you are just relying on the words themselves – which is exclusively the realm of texts. Moreover, when people communicate in short bursts, it is easier to misunderstand the meaning of the text than in other forms of written communication that is longer. Indeed, according to researchers Kato and Akahori in 2005, the smaller the amount of emotional content in a text message led to an increased amount of anxiety and frustration in the reciever’s reaction.

According to recent research, by David Xu, assistant professor in the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University, text messaging also leads to a greater likelihood of people lying in the text message.  Dr. Xu found that subjects who communicated via text messages were 95 percent more likely to lie or decieve than if they had interacted via video, 31 percent more likely to report deception when compared to face-to-face, and 18 percent more likely if the interaction was via audio chat.

Xu said this kind of research has implications for consumers to avoid problems such as online fraud, and for businesses looking to promote trust and build a good image, Xu said.

This also has implications for negotiations.  It is important to make sure that important negotiations are not conducted over text but instead through other methods.  Indeed, many negotiations require subtle clues to be interpreted.  Those interprations cannot occur through text messages.

It is also important to note that one benefit, however, of texting is for socially anxious people. For those people who are afraid of a face to face interaction, texting is beneficial. Indeed, research has shown that texting reduces the anxiety levels of persons who have difficulty communicating face to face.

Research Source: Wichita State University (2012, January 26). People lie more when texting, study finds.ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 11, 2013, from­/releases/2012/01/120125131120.htm

By Steven G. MehtaSteve Mehta

By Steven G. Mehta,

It is very common in mediation and negotiation for parties to want to vent their anger, frustration, or angst.  However, according to several participants who are on the listening end of such venting, there is only so much venting that they can take or accept without feeling like they have to say something in response.  This post discusses a few techniques to primarily be able to re-start the conversation from your perspective.

First, be careful to cut short a session when a person feels that they need to vent.  Sometimes, your perception of time is different than the other person’s.  Don’t simply judge the time to interrupt as being the one when the other person repeats themselves.  Sometimes, repeating a concept out loud is part of the process of venting and allows the person to digest their own feelings by expressing them again.  In fact, many times, the person’s own feelings may surprise himself or herself. In this situation, it is better to err on the side of allowing too much, rather than too little venting.

Second, if you feel like you have to interject a comment, be careful not to be defensive about your position.  Many people have the tendency to simply wait to present their position and come across as sounding defensive about their position, rather than actually wanting to hear the other perspective.

Third, when you do interject or interrupt, be careful in how you do it.  With some people, you may feel like that there is no right time, because they constantly have an uninterrupted flow of words that cannot be broken.  In those occasions, try the following as suggested by Linda Sapadin, Ph.D in the World of Psychology.  She provides 8 tips on how to interrupt.  Here are a few:


  1. Segue into another topic.

    “That’s some story. But now I’d like to talk about something more upbeat.”

  2. Be direct.

    “I need to interrupt you. I want to tell you what happened to me yesterday.”

  3. Use the person’s name (always an attention-getter), then redirect.

    “Jen, I get what you’re saying; it happened to me too.”

  4. Speak about your time situation.

    “Jared, I only have another minute to chat.”

These concepts. can be helpful in mediations or in negotiations.  

Steve’s Book

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