Disclose the bottom line strategically when it is calculated to do the most good. Mediation is akin to cooking a succulent dish. The necessary ingredients are added in the correct order and carefully cooked with care and expertise. There is no benefit to deviating from the recipe and bringing the dish to a boil way too early. Assuming you have developed a negotiation strategy, that may contemplate a seven or eight step process, don’t rush to the “bottom line” in a reactive fashion or out of frustration. Add the ingredients of your negotiating strategy in the right order and at the right time, slowly stir the pot with the appropriate care, and let the mediation process fully develop.
Experienced negotiators are never in a rush to communicate their bottom line too early to either the mediator or the opposing party. Having taken the care to develop a negotiating strategy, experienced negotiators let that strategy work, as well as the mediation process, in a natural and holistic flow.
Many parties fault mediators for not talking “money” or getting to the “bottom line” as quickly as they would like. Simply stated, if it were that easy then the parties would not have the need for a mediator’s services in the first instance. If the mediation is long, difficult and protracted, the parties and the mediator may deem it most appropriate to declare a short “cooling off” period to further explore, raise and contemplate creative resolution options. The declaration of a bottom line prematurely may deprive a client of this opportunity.
If the mediation appears to be languishing, and patience is running short, inquire of the mediator if the time is ripe for the communication of the bottom line and the impact of such a communication on the client’s overall negotiation strategy. It certainly does no harm to at least seek this input.