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A recent study from UC Berkely has discovered that women can use flirtation as a very effective negotiation technique.  This is not true, however for men.  Flirtatiousness, female friendliness, or the more diplomatic description “feminine charm” is an effective way for women to gain negotiating mileage, according to a new study by Haas School Professor Laura Kray.

Two experiments were conducted.  The first rated negotiating partners effectiveness based upon whether they used social charm or not.  The study found that women that used higher levels of social charm were considered more effective as negotiators; whereas the charm had no effect on the evaluation of the male negotiatiors.

The second study determined whether a participant would reduce the price of a $1,200 car based upon reading a story of a potential buyer as being a serious female or a socially acceptable flirtatious female.  The result? Male sellers were willing to give the “playful Sue” more than $100 off the selling price whereas they weren’t as willing to negotiate with the “serious Sue.” Playful Sue’s behavior did not affect female car sellers.

For both sexes, it is important to be able to understand that this phenomenon exists.  For women, they can use this knowledge to work on a better negotiated result.  For, men it is important to understand that this form of socially acceptable manipulation can occur and that it could be a negotiating tactic rather than this particular woman wanting to come on to you.

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By Steven G. Mehta

Many times when parties to mediation talk about the settlement value of a case, they talk about one number.  The case should settle for $100,000, or $50,000, or whatever number is at issue.  However, all too often that single number is a flawed method of helping you to figure out the best negotiating strategy.

First, it is important to note that there are many factors that go into deciding the value of a case.  This discussion is not intended to address that concern given the multitude of factors that affect the valuation.  Instead, once the value has been decided, we should discuss what should be done from there.

The reality is that instead of deciding a number, parties should really discuss a range of numbers.  Often times focusing on one single number as an outcome gives you a deceptive picture of the true negotiating picture and result.   There should really be 4 or 5 numbers that you should consider as part of your preparatory strategy before the mediation.

Think about a grade for your settlement.  A through F.

A – This settlement would be Awesome.  If I got this, and kept this up, I could make partner in a year.

B – Bravo.  You settled the case for a good number and you’ll get some high fives back at the office.

C- Could Do.  You could Easily Settle For this Number and No one would blink an eye at you.

D- Difficult.  You would have a hard time selling this settlement, but it’s not impossible.

F – Forget about it.  You suggest a settlement like this, and you might as well start looking for another job.

Let’s put this thought process into action.  You have a case that you previously spoke with your client about and you have received authority for and you believe $100,000 is the settlement number that you would be willing to pay to settle the case.

  1.  If you got an A settlement, maybe that number would be $70,000.  Wow wouldn’t that look good on your performance review.
  2. A B settlement might be $90,000.  Good job.  You worked hard on this one.
  3. A C settlement might just be $100,000 or a dollar below that number.  After all, that is what your client authorized you to do.
  4. A D settlement of $115,000 might be difficult for you to sell, but if push comes to shove, you might be able to help to get it done.
  5. Finally, there is no way that you could ever settle the case for $125,000.  That is a clear F.  Your boss knows it’s a recession and there are a thousand lawyers looking at your job.

Now that you have evaluated your range, you can fairly help to change your negotiating strategy.  Maybe, you should making a push to get $70,000.  However, not all cases are awesome; not all settlements are going to be great.  But, it’s worth a try.  Maybe, you should set your sights on $90,000 instead.  This number seems so much more achievable, and is still a great result.  After all, even the best batting average don’t bat a thousand.

This process can also help you over the long term in evaluating your negotiation success.  If you look at all your cases this way, and you are consistently getting C settlements, then maybe you need to think about trying to change your expectations.  On the other hand, if you are consistently getting A’s and B’s and once in a while a C or D, then that paints a completely different picture.

The reality is that settlements are not pass-fail, but instead graded on a spectrum.  By chaning your perspective, you might also have the added benefit of getting better resolutions to your cases.

By Steven G. Mehta

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a District Attorney (DA)who was about my age about his shock at a new DA who wanted to lead the entire homocide unit within 3 years, and he expected to get a homocide case straight out of law school.  (This was a shock to my friend because you have to at least been with the DA’s office at least 6 years before you are assigned a homocide, and have to first do misdeameanors to cut your teeth.)  This discussion got me thinking about the Millennial generation — the Generation after GenX.  This generation has started to grow and get into the work force, and I have been increasingly thinking about how to interact with such generation.  In communicating with each person, you must take them individually, but you can also learn lessons on how to adapt to that person’s style if you wish to have better communications.  As negotiators, you have to be able to understand the audience so that you can present better to them.

As such, I decided to look into some information regarding millenials.  Here is an excerpt of an article I saw on the topic in pyschology today by Ronald Riggio, PH.D.

Part of successful leadership is adapting your leadership style or behaviors to address the qualities and needs of the followers – a component of the highly-effective transformational leadership. The emerging group of workers – who most are calling the “Millennial Generation” – born between 1980 and 2000, are a different breed than the generation before them (Generation X) and the Baby Boomers before them.

Here are the ways in which Millennials differ from their predecessors:

They are Technologically Savvy. Obviously. They grew up with PCs, the Internet, and i-phones. They embrace, rather than resist, new technology (as opposed to Boomers). AND, they are interconnected.Bully an employee and you will end up on eBosswatch, Rate My Boss, or another on-line “evaluation system” – and their 840 facebook friends will instantly know all about it, too.

They Play Well With Others. (Good in teams). Millennials are so networked that they are never truly alone. They can collaborate and aren’t afraid to ask others for assistance (as opposed to the do-it-alone, Gen Xers).

They Want the World (and They Want it Now). Millennials are hopeful, and cautiously optimistic. They are “civic-minded” and want to change the world and make it a better place, but they are impatient about it. Millennials grew up volunteering in school and elsewhere, so they are committed to social causes and to righting the world’s ills.

They Want Recognition and to Be Taken Seriously. Doted on and empowered by their parents, Millennials want their ideas to be heard. They want to participate in decisionmaking, and they don’t believe much in the authority hierarchy or in the idea of having to have “put in time” or “earn your stripes.”

They Want Employee-Centered and “Fun” Workplaces. With the tough job market, Millennials are realizing that they need to be creative, flexible, and innovative to support themselves. But, the thought of spending their lives in a traditional corporate environment is seen as a fate worse than death. Google and other cutting-edge organizations realize this and have developed creative, fun, and employee-centered environments to attract and retain the most talented Millennials.

So, how do you manage and lead Millennials?

Take into account their needs. Realize that they are creative and good at multi-tasking, but they need structure. In their creative hubbub, they might get lost without it. Take advantage of their tech-savviness and their ability to work together well.

Importantly, Millennials are idealistic and have a strong sense of what they want their leaders to be. In short, they want their leaders to be heroes (superhero movies are box-office winners with Millennials), who have integrity, and a sense of fairness and concern for employees. Leading the Millennial Generation successfully is going to be the key to success in the near future.

There are a variety of resources and an emerging body of research on Millennials. There is a great deal of attention to Millennials from colleges, libraries, and in the career and recruitment literature because most Millennials are still in school or just emerging into the workplace.

Here is a video from BNET that shows how to work with Millennials.

I also thought you might like to see a video created by Millennials regarding the same topic.

With this information, what are your thoughts as to how to communicate with millenials?

By Steven G. Mehta

Many times in mediation, the question or issue arises as to whether a party is making an apology because it genuinely feels remorse or whether the party is simply saying it to gain some form of economic advantage.  As you will see, those same apologies, when done wrong can backfire terribly.

This issue has been raised in two different forums in the world recently.  First, the issue has come about with regards to Toyota’s apology to the world.  Indeed, in Japan when parties express regret they are (by culture) required to bow deeply.  Toyota’s C.E.O. has apologized for his company’s massive recall, but questions have risen whether his apology and bow were sufficient and genuine.  See Los Angeles Times article, A Ritualistic Bow From Toyota Chief.

Some say that C.E.O. Toyoda’s bow was not deep enough and was simply a ritualistic act.  Others also comment that a true apology would be used against Toyota in litigation.  Do these issues sound familiar?  They sure do to me.  This is a common theme in mediation. Whether to apologize?  How?  And whether it is genuine?

Another theme common in mediation is the following scene:  A person has committed a wrong several years ago.  Perhaps the person apologized “formally” at the time.  It was, however, unclear as to whether the apology at that time was genuine.  Enter the mediation.  Issues are being raised about the conduct several years ago and its ramifications.   How does the repenting person act.  Well, Mel Gibson gives us a great example of how not to act in that situation.

Here, Mel Gibson is asked about his anti-semitic remarks several years ago.  At first he appears remorseful.  But as you see in the video his conduct now is clearly not that.  There are several non-verbal and in between the message signs.  First, he states that he is the same person as he was then.  Clearly he is not distancing himself from that terrible event.  Second, he laughs at the question that he clearly understands in a nervous laugh when he asks for clarification.  Third, he states he has gotten over this “but clearly you haven’t.”

Further, he then states that he has done the “necessary mea culpas” as if there is a certain amount of apologies that can be made and then all is good.  This comment alone reflects his lack of remorse.  One of the things about violating people’s trust and then giving an apology, you cannot simply act as if the apology is ritualistic.  Take the same action and put it into other violations of trust.  For example, “Honey, I know I cheated on you several years ago, but I have said my necessary apologies.  You shouldn’t feel hurt today.”  His comment appears to reflect his true belief that he is not in fact sorry for his actions and that the apologies were simply formalities required to move on and keep selling movies.

Mel’s next action is also telling.  He picks up the cup of coffee and holds it in between himself and the camera as if to distance himself.  (How many times in T.V. interviews for movie promotions do you see someone drinking coffee while on camera?  Never).  Then, he turns away, and raises his thumb in a “yeah, yeah, whatever,” manner.

Then, the piece de resistance is Mel’s comment at the end.

Mel Gibson appears to the classic example of lack of remorse being shown for his indiscretions.  In mediation, many times a genuine apology can make the difference.  However, take Mel Gibson as an example of what not to do.

By the way, here is another interview with Mel Gibson by another reporter.  Does he appear remorseful to you?

Steve’s Book

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