Similar Negotiation Skills Needed in Business and Family Disputes

Whether you are participating in a business transaction or dispute resolution. If you plan on having a continued relationship with the person on the other side, it is imperative that you understand the principles of negotiation. I deal with small business owners looking to grow their business, or needing to resolve an issue with a current or former customer. I also work with husbands and wives interested in resolving family disputes through mediation. A common thread runs through these situations when the parties intend to have ongoing relationships after the negotiation is completed. Sometimes an ongoing relationship is not desired, but the situation requires long-term contact and communication.

This common thread is avoiding greed. In a situation where a small business owner wishes to grow his business by connecting with potential new clients, earning their trust, and gaining their business. It is essential to not come off as greedy, or in it only for your own benefit. Appreciation for their business, and an understanding that the relationship is mutual and not one sided helps to build loyalty and create a long-term relationship. The same goes for business and family disputes. If a dispute arises and you look to negotiate with the other party to resolve the issue, the other party must be able to see a benefit to working with you. There must be a reason why the solution you desire appeals to them or else negotiation efforts will break down. No one wants to feel taken advantage of, or duped into a solution they will not be happy with.

Check out Chris Myers’ article titled, 3 Overlooked Negotiation Skills Entrepreneurs Need To Master, published on, March 27, 2017. He has a great story of how he learned negotiation skills while becoming an entrepreneur.

Favorite Quote: Every Business is a Family Business

One of my favorite quotes from the book E-Myth by Michael Gerber is: Every Business is a Family Business. Whether a business officially employs individuals from the family or not, the business is a family business. At some point the family members, even the individuals outside the business or not directly influencing day-to-day operations, may depend on the family as a financial resource.

When disputes arise in family businesses things can get complicated. Personal opinions can cloud business decisions and business elements can impact personal feelings and emotions. Solving legal issues in a family business without going to court can save time and money as well as family relationships.


A great source for information about mediation can be found on
Check out a link to an article about family business mediation:
Family Business Mediation: Solving Legal Issues Without Going to Court by Stephen McDonough. January 2017.



Being More Flexible and Adaptable in 2017!

We are in the midst of 2017 resolutions for the new year. Everyone things for the old go-to resolutions of losing weight or eating better.  Why not resolve to live a more flexible, less-stressful life?

Have you ever made a plan and had things go terribly off track? Things just don’t go your way, or you don’t accomplish the goal you had set for yourself? Okay, so those are ridiculous questions. Everyone, at some time or another have had thing not go their way. Research shows that being more flexible and adaptable makes for a calmer, more enjoyable life. After all, we each only have one life to live.

Our lives are filled with things we can argue about or fight over. We can be angry at the cable repair man for not showing up on time, or the doctor’s office for not having an appointment slot for three months. However, what is the purpose? Being angry is not going to make him show up any earlier. or have the doctor’s schedule simply open up for your choice of convenient appointments.

Look at daily life and think of ways that you can be more flexible. Flexibility leads to more relaxation, less stress, and a more empowering existence.

According to an article by Megan Coatley, Behavior Expert, 6 Ways to Maintain Your Mental Flexibility, being inflexible is a behavior learned over a long period of time. You may look at being inflexible as standing your ground or a tactic for winning.  In the business arena, inflexibility may be a negotiating strategy. Unfortunately, not all situations can be won or work well in the face of inflexibility.

Practice flexibility by looking for areas in your life to compromise. Many things will be okay even if you do not win or get your way. Ultimately, other people are interested in working with and being around people they enjoy! A life with more flexibility and adaptability to changing events leads to a more- fulfilled, less-stressed life. Remember, you only get to do it once, you might as well enjoy it!


Negotiation: Getting To Yes

One of the best books I’ve read on the subject of negotiation is Getting To Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury. They have gone on to write additional books and coordinated lectures on the topic, but for a quick read ( I think 150 pages or so) this book is the go to for negotiation.

Negotiation is not just for the business setting. We are constantly negotiating with our coworkers, spouse, and children. Getting To Yes offers a variety of interesting tactics for optimizing your negotiation skills.
Image result for getting to yes book

Please note: This is not a paid advertisement. The book is a Bestseller, quick read, and highly educational!

Why should I use Divorce Mediation?

I look at mediation as a great opportunity for parents! Litigation can result in unhappy parents with an agreement one or both cannot live up to. For individuals with time constraints, changing schedules (I think this describes most people!), and other people in their lives, mediation offers divorcing spouses the opportunity to customize the plans for their future.

When individuals visualize mediation as a customized agreement as opposed to a cookie-cutter mandate imposed by a third party (the judge), parties start to appreciate the importance of the opportunity being given to them.

Mediation allows the parties to maintain control over their future as well as how they will parent their child or children in the future.

Mediation is also more cost-effective than adversarial litigation. If parents can work together and reach an agreement, the time and money spent on the divorce process is significantly lower.

Mediation can result in less stress and reduce future conflict. Parents that reach a settlement together are more likely to work together later when changes are needed.





How Much Does Mediation Cost?


The cost of mediation varies by the amount of time required to resolve a dispute. Civil (business) and family (family, divorce, probate) mediation require different processes and use different procedures.

We provide mediation services to small businesses and individuals within our community. Prices and processes vary by location and mediator throughout the United States. Be sure to contact a mediator in your area for specific details.

At Liberty-Ellington Mediation, civil mediation usually entails one full-day session (6 hour mediation session with approximately 45 mins. for lunch). Commonly, civil mediation (business) involves one or two specific issues. The parties are often familiar with the process and have legal counsel present to protect their rights.

Family mediation includes family disputes, divorce, and probate issues. This process often requires several shorter sessions over a longer period of time.  Individuals may participate with or without counsel present. We recommend that each party consult an attorney before a final agreement is reached. These mediation sessions are scheduled in half-day blocks (3 hour mediation sessions) or full-day blocks (6 hour mediation session with approximately 45 mins. for lunch).  Depending on the parties, approximately one to four sessions are necessary due to the various components of a potential resolution.

Ultimately, our goal is to resolve the dispute. However, successful mediation in a timely manner depends a lot on the parties’ efforts to resolve the issues, coming to mediation prepared, and willingness to work together.

Divorce Mediation $500-$5000 approximately

Civil Mediation $800-$3000 approximately

Small Business Mediation $500-3000 approximately

Neighbor and Landlord/Tenant Mediation $300-1200 approximately

We serve Russellville, Dardanelle, Danville, Clarksville, and Morrillton, Arkansas. Please call to inquire about our ability to travel to other locales.

What Do I Need To Do To Prepare For Divorce Mediation?


Understand that mediation is an opportunity. If your dispute goes to trial a judge or jury will ultimately decide how you and the other party will proceed in the future. Mediation gives each party an opportunity to have a combined say in the outcome of their dispute.

All mediation is voluntary. Even if you have been court-ordered to mediation, you are not required to come to a resolution. It is important to look at the mediation process as an opportunity to compromise and have a say in the final agreement moving forward.

As part of our Mediation Packet, we provide a document for you to prepare your ideal outcome, what you can live with, and an absolute “No Resolution” situation. List out your must-haves and things you are willing to entertain to resolve your dispute.

Having an open mind and willingness to listen to other possible resolutions is the key to coming to a solution everyone will be satisfied with.

Understand that mediation is a confidential process. The things you say or do at mediation will not be used in court, except for a few exceptions like an expression of a future criminal act or a lawsuit against the mediator.

Although you cannot guarantee how prepared the other party will be, if at all possible, you may want to suggest open dialogue with the other party before the mediation session.

What is mediation?

According to a Google search, mediation is intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration. However, this simple definition often causes confusion. Mediation is NOT arbitration!

Arbitration is the private, judicial determination of a dispute, by an independent third party. Think of it as submitting your case, or arguing your case to an arbitrator rather than a judge.

While mediation and arbitration are both dispute resolution processes, they are very different in practice.

Mediation can be thought of as assisted negotiation. While the mediator helps the parties reach an agreement each is satisfied with, the mediator does not evaluate each sides view or determine who is right or wrong. A mediator does not determine the terms by which the parties will be held accountable.


Mediation is a voluntary meetingprocess. Individuals can discontinue the mediation process at any time. Mediation is collaborative in that each party must work together for mediation to be successful and no one party has a better standing or case than the other party. The mediation process is confidential. The mediator is an impartial, neutral party assisting the parties in coming to a mutual agreement. While the mediator does not offer legal advise, parties can participate in mediation with the assistance of legal counsel or communicate with legal counsel before making a final decision on an agreement.