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“Negotiation is 80% preparation and 20% dialogue.”

All Sectional Title disputes are about money? – WRONG

Exchanging monetary offers and counter offers is horse-trading, not negotiation. Meeting half way is fine when the stakes are so low that negotiating isn’t worth the time.


What is important for you?

Is it…

  • Relationship
  • Continuity of a good situation (eg excellent living standards)
  • Durability (the agreement can withstand surprises)
  • Reputation
  • Sustainability of the agreement supported when…
    • Fair treatment prevails.
    • Access to redress is part of the agreement/s.
    • Security in the expectation of calm co-existence.
    • The process is seen as a means of putting the past to rest.
    • Personal reconciliation receives the support of co-owners.
    • Outcomes match the circumstances of the conflict.

Acknowledgement that the other’s viewpoints have some merit.


This is an example of a checklist that defines “preparation”:

  • What are my short-term and long-term goals?
  • What are my strengths, values, skills, and assets?
  • What are my weaknesses and vulnerabilities?
  • Why is the other party negotiating with me? / what do I have that they need?
  • Where and when should the negotiation take place?
  • How long should talks last? What deadlines are we facing?
  • What are my interests and how do they rank in importance?
  • What is my “reservation point” my indifference point between a deal and no deal?
  • What is my aspiration point/ goal that I’d like to reach?
  • What are the other side’s interests? How important might each issue be to them?
  • What do I think their reservation point may be? How can I find out more?
  • Who has more power to walk away?
  • Is there a Zone Of Possible Agreement (ZOPA) between my reservation point and the other side’s?
  • Is there no room for bargaining, and if so, is there any reason to negotiate?
  • What ‘extra’ issues can I add to the discussion to trade with?
  • What is my relationship history with the other party?
  • How might our past relationship affect current talks?
  • In what order should I approach various parties on the other side?
  • Do we need to involve any third parties (agents, lawyers, mediators)?
  • Am I ready to engage in interest-based bargaining?
  • Have I practised communicating my message to the other side?
  • Does the agenda make room for simultaneous discussion of multiple issues?
  • What are my ATNAs/ “Alternatives to a Negotiated Agreement”?
    •  BATNA Best alternative to a negotiated agreement.
    •  WATNA Worst alternative to a negotiated agreement.
    •  MLATNA Most Likely alternative to a negotiated agreement.

Preparation is vigorous, disciplined and very difficult to do alone.

Optimal outcomes are unlikely without it.

You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need

~ Mick Jagger

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