Monday, March 23, 2009

Getting What You Want -- First Ask for It

Today I saw the weekly newsletter that Francie Cooper, a local life coach, publishes. She also has a blog. The newsletter had an interesting article about the need to ask for something that you want. She says it's the first step in attaining your goals and meeting your needs. Asking for things is also a key part of the Collaborative process.

Asking for things occurs in two ways in a Collaborative case: first, in setting up their goals, the parties are identifying and asking for what they want; second, to get specific agreements, the parties themselves must ask for what terms they want. In contrast to litigation, the parties speak for themselves, rather than let the attorneys do the talking in negotiations.

Francie illustrated her article with two examples that also illuminate the Collaborative process. In one example, a woman wanted a specific kind of car at at specific price. In the other example, Francie's son figured out he needed more money for college than he had planned on. Each story had additional elements that also related to Collaborative Law.
  • In each case, the person started off with specific goals.
  • Each person followed up by gathering information and organizing it.
  • The information was presented to the other party in the negotiations in a persuasive manner, the person asked for what she or he ultimately wanted and there was a discussion which lead to agreements.

It sounds much like Collaborative Law and shows that the basic structure is sound.

One of the main differences between Collaborative Law and litigation is how Collaborative Law focuses on the goals of each. In litigation, where there's negotiation, it is usually positional bargaining instead of interest-based negotiation which is the basis of Collaborative Law. In litigation, in a property division discussion, most times the talk is about what percentage of the assets and liabilities each party will receive. Each side often stakes out an extreme starting position so that they can compromise and end up where they want to be. In other issues, there are more or less automatic decisions on some issues like setting child support and a visitation schedule. In each case, there's very little discussion.

Collaborative Law
By contrast, in Collaborative cases, the focus is on how to achieve various goals. Once the goals are established, the parties gather information and then go through a brainstorming process to generate options. After evaluating the options, each party asks for what they want to help meet their needs. Instead of automatic formulas to be applied, there is a genuine discussion that leads to an agreement. The parties must speak up for themselves and ask for what they want. There is a full discussion of the various options and the parties generally reach a conclusion that they are both satisfied with.

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