“I have authorization to settle the case up to $150,000. I’d like to keep it under that. Can you help me get there?”
What just happened? A moment ago I was a free agent. Now, apparently, I had been enlisted to support the defendant’s goal. By bringing the mediator closer, revealing a confidence, and giving the mediator her trust, the attorney drew upon the mediator’s natural inclination to want to help solve her problem.
This is a great strategy in mediation. On the one side, there was no specific direction. On the other side was a clear destination. With a fixed and not unreasonable goal, mediators have something to work towards.
The negotiations continued but the gap narrowed much more quickly than it would have otherwise. Of course, the case settled for slightly more than the defendant’s stated goal, but even the defendant knew that was going to happen.