Honesty in Negotiations/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on January 18, 2012


Richard Haass, a career diplomat and public servant, yesterday appeared on a talk show and discussed the upcoming election. Mr. Haass opined that the winning formula for a successful candidate would need to be honesty. In effect the candidate will need to say: “We are facing problems in America, the remedy will not come quickly, but we can see this through.” Years ago, when President Eisenhower ran for office, he told a story with the similar theme of being straightforward. The anecdote was about the spiritually-minded small town farmer who wished to see his cow. When asked how much milk this cow normally produced, the farmer realized he did not know how to answer the question. Facts evaded him. The farmer simply replied: “This cow is an honest cow. Whatever milk she has, she will give you”.

People appreciate honesty and being given straight talk. If you have a legal dispute with another (family, commercial, etc.) why not settle for honest talk. “This is what I need, this is what I can give.” Chances are that the other party will appreciate this and will act in kind. Honest discussion helps both parties, reduces rancor, and ultimately reduces the cost of your legal representation. Honesty is a possible by-product of mediated discussion. It is virtually impossible to attain through litigation and confrontation. As always, the best advice is this; mediate don’t litigate.