‘The Negotiators’ is a series of articles that bring to life the most common types of negotiator: what they are like, their strengths and weaknesses, as well as approaches that will help you negotiate with them. Designed to be practical tools, you may find value in referring to the set for a quick start in reading and handling those you encounter.
“I do this all the time, so I know how to negotiate”.
This particular type of negotiator (not always lawyers, and not all lawyers are like this) likes to engage. They love the cut and thrust of negotiation and are some of the most comfortable at the table. Experienced in the field, The Lawyer wants to get to a deal…but first they have to argue (a lot) and prove they know the most about this specific situation.
The Lawyer understands power and probably does the best assessment of it prior to facing up. They are usually well prepared with arguments as to their position, and as such are masters of positioning – gaining themselves more power. Bargaining and trading concessions comes naturally, and they insert clauses to lose as they totally understand these processes. They also know some classic tactics, which can work in a one off negotiation, but are unlikely to build trust.
Finally, they are masters of using authority. What does a lawyer have if not the weight of the law behind them? And of course, their interpretation is the correct one.
All of this creates a double-edged sword. Arguing is not productive in negotiations – doing so just encourages the other party to entrench themselves. Falling into the trap of weeds is something The Lawyer does all too often – even by their own admission!
Favorite Film – A Few Good Men
Favorite Book – The Firm
Favorite Food – Sushi
How to work with them
As with any self-proclaimed expert negotiator it’s important not to question their ability or they’ll spend their time trying to prove how wrong you are. Feed their ego. You’ll must work hard to avoid their arguments. The Lawyer has even been known to attempt entrapment on their counterparty; getting them to argue so they can show just how much more they know than you!
Similar to The Player, you may just want to play the game better than them, staying a step ahead, while having them feel like they are in control. A seemingly passive control and silence can work wonders here. Let The Lawyer talk and they often provide insight you can use against them.
If they are an actual lawyer, particularly external counsel, then you’ll have to work them hard, so they can demonstrate their eye-watering fees provide value to their client. Remember this! Internal counsel is salaried so is often more results focused, not paid by the hour and so keen to move onto the next deal.