How to be your own mediator in difficult negotiations

By Bruce Firestone | Business Coaching

Jan 25

A few suggestions:

  1. let them vent first
  2. don’t argue
  3. don’t answer each point with counterpoint
  4. nod
  5. smile occasionally
  6. make encouraging noises
  7. frown at the right spots
  8. sympathize with them
  9. ask, “Can you tell us more?”
  10. ask, “Can you elaborate on that?”
  11. say, “I didn’t know that”
  12. “I understand”
  13. “That’s interesting”
  14. “I can see your point”
  15. But don’t acknowledge or accept responsibility
  16. Use the Socratic method—ask questions—don’t tell them anything, just ask
  17. offer a “make good”
  18. it’s much more highly valued than money
  19. like, if you’re a realtor, you offer to find them another tenant for free if the one you found them bailed before their lease was over
  20. like, if the heat failed in one of your units, as landlord, you offer your tenant a nice 4-k TV
  21. or free trip to the zoo for his/her kids
  22. or an Instant Pot if they like cooking
  23. or a magician visit for their kid’s next birthday party
  24. or a gift certificate to Toys R Us
  25. or a free trip to Mont Tremblant, if they like snowboarding

Before you start negotiating your way out of any tight spot, re-read Rudyard Kipling’s, If, so you don’t make a bad situation worse.





(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Bruce M Firestone, B Eng (civil), M Eng-Sci, PhD
Real Estate Investment and Business coach
ROYAL LePAGE Performance Realty broker
Ottawa Senators founder


Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

Image courtesy of,

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.