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Speak directly to the party with whom you are negotiating, in person or on Zoom, rather than using email, voicemail, text messages or snail mail (USPS). That’s the advice of negotiation expert Victoria H. Medvec, PhD, in her 2021 book Negotiate Without Fear.

Before fax machines and email, communication choices were phone or letter. While the letter could be sent overnight by FEDEX or UPS, the extra cost and time delay meant the phone was the predominate means used. Now we have email, voicemail, text messages to send our messages promptly and when convenient for the sender, without having to wait for the other party to connect with us.

This electronic convenience has caused many lawyers to lose awareness of its overuse. Dr. Medvec points out that the sender loses the awareness of the receiver’s reaction that the sender gets in the direct connections of phone and Zoom.

In using indirect communication, called asynchronous communication, the sender gives up knowledge of the receiver’s reaction and allows the receiver to delay responding. Thus, we have both more miscommunication and more delay.

Direct communication allows the receiver to ask for better understanding of the sender’s message and intent. It provides opportunities for better understanding of each other’s positions, needs and interests and often results in a direct response from the receiver that moves the parties more closely toward settlement.

By engaging in the direct, synchronous, facilitated communication of joint mediation sessions, divorcing parties save time and money.  They avoid the miscommunication risks, time delays and needless additional costs incurred when allowing lawyers to take over the communication and negotiations.

Stay in control of you case by engaging in mediation. Use your lawyer for legal advice between mediation sessions. Don’t turn over control to your lawyer.

The foregoing provides educational information and does not provide legal advice. It was not prepared for you either generally or in connection with any specific issue or case. The mediator does not give legal advice. You are responsible for obtaining legal advice from your own lawyer.