How Many Options Do We Need?/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on January 19, 2018


Professor Max Bazerman of Harvard Business School poses this question: “Did you ever see a house for sale and decide right then and there that you need to bid on it? You have fallen head over heels for this house. It is then likely that you will not be in a strong bargaining position. You have limited your options. The suggestion by the Professor is that you fall in love with three houses. You will then be less enmeshed with the need to get this one house. Your thinking and bargaining will likely be more balanced and more realistic.

At points in the mediation process the parties may reach a dead-end. They will need some suggestions to help them proceed on the way to Win-Win. You may be tempted to give the parties a solution that you feel may enthrall them both. But are they then following their instincts or the urging of their mediator? What to do? Give them three options to consider. Let them fall in love with all three for the moment. Then help them reach their final decision.. The option they choose will then be all the sweeter and more likely to feel as if it is their own. Above all, mediate don’t litigate.