According to The New York Times, over 90 percent of cases settle out of court. That's a huge amount of lawsuits that settle rather than fight it out in litigation.
While it's more common and sometimes far more cost effective to settle, there are many ways to have successful settlement negotiations. Here are a few tips and pointers on settlement talks.
Have a clear idea of what you want. Knowing what you want keeps you on track. It also helps you make the right decisions -- ones that you'll be happy with in the long term.
Know your alternatives. Before going into negotiation talks, it's important to weigh out your options. This way, if one option doesn't work out, you'll know what to expect and you'll be more willing to accept the available options.
Understand what the other side wants. If you don't know what you have to give or what the other side has to gain or lose, how can you expect to be successful in negotiations?
Listen. You learn a lot more by listening. When you listen, you can learn more about the other sides needs, and even their weaknesses. This helps you determine the direction of the negotiation.
Don't put all your cards on the table. Be careful when putting your cards on the table. When the other side know what you want too early, they also know what you have to lose.
Don't disrespect. Be graceful. While negotiations and lawsuits are adversarial in nature, a settlement talk really isn't a platform for "he said, she said." Calm negotiations will be a lot more effective.
Don't take the first offer you get. You don't have to. If the first offer isn't what you had in mind, take your time and wait for a better one.