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Volume IV, Number 3 • April 2011 • Archives of Past Issues
An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association
Written by Linda B. Bulmash

This Month's Topic:

Avoid Confrontational Language*

Most of us, when confronted by another person with a position that we totally disagree with, will start arguing about the veracity of that position. The problem with this approach, or more to the point, reaction, is that it leads to an argument. The reality is that when you starting pushing, people push back. The more you argue, the more they are forced into proving they are right.

So how do you overcome this natural tendency to try to prove you are right? One way is to have a playbook that gives you a way of disagreeing without being confrontational and also gives you time to think. Roger Dawson, a master negotiator, author and trainer has come up with a basic formula: "feel, felt, found".

Assume someone says something we often hear in legal negotiations and mediations: "That is a ridiculous and insulting offer." Armed with Dawson's "feel, felt, found" formula, you can respond as follows:

1. FEEL: "Please help me understand why you feel that way." Or "I understand how you would feel that way."

2. FELT: "I (and others) have been in your position, have often felt that way too."

3. FOUND: "And, what I have found is that taking a step back and discussing why this is so insulting often opens the door to other possibilities that might satisfy your interests."

The bottom line: Instead of arguing, get into the habit of agreeing with them and then turning it around.

*Secrets of Power Negotiating, Roger Dawson, The Career Press, Inc 2001

Linda B. Bulmash, Esq.,
writes the Negotiation Tips.
You can contact her at:
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