Don’t Confuse Arguing for Negotiating

Jun 24, 2014

Arm WrestlingDoes your attorney argue or negotiate? Arguing is not the same as negotiating.

Negotiation, at its root, is problem solving.  It is the act of solving joint problems.

Arguing, by contrast, is at its best the act of trying to persuade someone to adopt your point of view. It is the act of trying to convince someone else that you are right, and they are wrong. At its worst it is trying to convince someone that that you are worthy and they are not; they are bad, and you are good.

Negotiating involves a consideration of the other party’s perspective, and what they need from the negotiation.  It involves some degree of effort to meet the other party’s needs in a resolution, in recognition that resolution is a two way street.

By contrast, argument ignores the other party’s part in a resolution.  It treats the other party as if their agreement is not required for resolution.  It says to the other person “You are an obstacle to me having what I want.”  That may be true, but that’s not going to get you what you want.

If you are arguing, then you are not negotiating.  If your attorney is arguing, then they are not negotiating.  Anytime either of you is not problem solving, then you are not negotiating.  And if you are not negotiating and not problem solving, then what are you doing and where is it taking you?

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a client change their mind as a result of an argument.  (How many times did an argument during your marriage actually change something for the better?) But, I’ve had a lot of clients change their mind on an issue through problem solving and negotiation.  And I can tell you that attorneys don’t change their minds through argument.

If you want to get your divorce resolved so you can move on, pay attention to whether you are problem solving and negotiating, or you are arguing.  And hire an attorney that understands the difference.




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