Negotiation Tip: Listen for Leakage

Sam Jones, a much sought after divorce lawyer, took his young clerk, Marcia Green, to the negotiation session with Al Briggs, opposing counsel.

“Look,” said Al, “the most we can pay for the marital award is about a $100,000.”

After the session, Marcia said to Sam, “our client is going to be upset that $100,000 is the most they can pay.”

“It’s not!” said Sam. “Didn’t you hear him say ‘about’ $100,000? That’s means he has authority to pay more.”

“I guess I didn’t hear that.”

“In a negotiation, it pays to listen. Words like about, more or less, or almost are leakage. They are like tells in a poker game. They let you read the mind of your opponent. The truth leaks out.”