Episode Notes

In a negotiation, each party wants something. Discovering how to make it a win-win situation, aka finding the sweet spot, is the key. Today, Stephanie talks with author and professor Leigh Thompson about how to work a negotiation in everyone’s favor, boldly state the outcome you’d like, and not settle for anything less! 

Links from the episode: 

Negotiating the Sweet Spot Book

More about Leigh Thompson

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  • 9:57. What is the sweet spot?
  • 16:36. Planning your opening offer.
  • 20:41. Strategies for negotiating.



Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts


Zack Glaser (00:35):

Hi, I’m Zack Glaser.


Stephanie Everett (00:36):

And I’m Stephanie Everett. And this is episode 415 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today I’m talking with Dr. Leigh Thompson about finding the sweet spot while negotiating


Zack Glaser (00:49):

Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionists, Berkshire Receptionists, and Lawyerist Lab. We wouldn’t be able to do this show without their support, so stay tuned and we’ll tell you more about them later on. So Stephanie, we just got back from ClioCon and I guess by the time this airs, we won’t have just gotten back from it, but there are a lot of conferences that we go to that we participate in and it going to ClioCon this year especially got me thinking about how does one approach going to a conference and get what they need personally out of one.


Stephanie Everett (01:23):

Yeah, I think it’s a great question because we had some of our Lab members there at Clio that we connected with. We talked to a lot of people and one thing I definitely heard from some of our Websters especially was they feel like they’re advanced users. And so what blew their minds five years ago when they went to a conference and heard something from the first time, now they know it now they’re like, Oh, I’ve already heard these things. I don’t need this level of instruction. I need something different. And so I think you have to go in with a new plan about what it is you’re trying to get out of a conference when you’re going, especially if you’re going to a big one, that that does cater to a lot of people,


Zack Glaser (02:04):

Right? Cuz it’s not fair to ask a company like Clio putting on ClioCon to have everything for everybody to have advanced issues for family law. But still, we want to continue to go back to ClioCon, we want to continue to go back to tech’s show and to be able to get something out of it. How can people do that themselves, even at these sorts of conferences?


Stephanie Everett (02:31):

I mean, one shout out to the conference planners, I think there is a way to create different levels of community at your conferences. And we do that at Lab Con where we now are very intentional about, Hey, this group is for users who are at this stage of their business and this group’s gonna be for the beginners, right? Because we’ve realized as we’ve had our conference for a number of years, that you need to evolve as your audience also evolves. So one I’d like to just say, I think conferences, there’s a way, way to do it. I mean, call me if you want my ideas, but also for the listeners, if you’re the attendee, what is it that you wanna get out of this experience? I mean, networking and connecting with other users is a great thing to do, especially because these are often pulling from a national audience.



I talk to a Labster this morning and he was at a great time at Clio. I went in and I wanted to meet these three people and learn this one new thing,. And he did, and he did. He felt like that was worth his trip. And so he was happy blowing off other sessions that he knew weren’t gonna be useful to him because he was connecting with those people or learning that skill. So I think if you go in with a really clear idea around maybe some other things you’d like to accomplish, then that would help. If you’re new to the scene, obviously all the sessions are gonna be amazing. I mean, I had so many people who are like, This was amazing. I hadn’t thought about this. Absolutely. What we’re really talking about now is for people who’ve been going to this thing for year after year and how do you still make it relevant if you’re in a different place in your business,


Zack Glaser (04:05):

 and these are the people that they still want to go to. Something like ClioCon Tech Show, and these conferences are still putting great information out there. How can we hone it for ourselves as kind of advanced users? And I think that’s a good point of how do we make these connections? Because something like ClioCon draws a lot of users from across the country and frankly from across the globe, we had lobsters there come in from Switzerland


Stephanie Everett (04:33):

And Brazil and Canada, <laugh>


Zack Glaser (04:34):

And Brazil and Canada. And so I think creating the relationships, having one on one sessions with people, teasing out information from what we got in these sessions from some of these great speakers. There were some wonderful speakers at ClioCon.


Stephanie Everett (04:52):

Yeah, for sure. And also knowing that this is a great place to connect with vendors. If you’re in the market for a new piece of technology, you can go and actually demo four or five different tools or however many tools, but of a particular type on the exhibit hall floor and have those conversations with people and ask the people who are designing the products, can it do this thing? Show me how it solves this problem. There’s a lot of different reasons to go to a conference and you just need to be thoughtful about why are you going to this particular event, what do you hope to get out of it? And then make sure that you do


Zack Glaser (05:30):

 Now here is Stephanie’s conversation with Leigh.


Leigh Thompson (05:38):

Hi, I’m Leigh Thompson. I’m a professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. I’m the author of the book Negotiating the Sweet Spot, The Art of Leaving Nothing on the Table. I primarily teach MBA students and executive MBA students, but I do have students pursuing JD MBAs. And so I have sympathy, empathy, and a lot of respect for attorneys, and I’m thrilled to be here.


Stephanie Everett (06:05):

Yes. Well, thank you. We are excited to have you. And I thought before we dig into the nitty gritty of negotiating, I had maybe an interesting question for you, which is up until now, before I read your book, I think everything I have read that’s written about negotiating has been written by a man. So I’m curious being a woman, how you see that, if that impacted your approach or your research?


Leigh Thompson (06:33):

Oh, yes, it absolutely did. So I have some stories to tell. It’s kind of pay it forward, pay it backwards. So here I am, I’m an alleged negotiation expert. So I am sitting in my first job in my office kind of workaholic, trying to get tenure. And I had a colleague, female, this is 8:00 PM at night, poke her head in my office and she looked at me and she said, You know what, Leigh, you’re underpaid. And I said, Oh my gosh, that’s horrific news. And she goes, We’re at a state university, do something about it. And I knew what she was saying. So I marched over to the library, This was kind of before you could get a whole bunch of stuff on the internet. And I was able to get everybody’s salaries and I made an Excel file and I made bar charts and I made trajectories and I kind of got my act together.



And I went into my chairperson and I came in with the language of, here’s my research, help me understand. And I’m not kidding, three days later my phone rang. It was the dean of the arts and sciences saying, We’re giving you a pay raise. So it’s a true story. And so point of the story is that if it hadn’t been for my colleague poking her head in the office, I would’ve probably continued to just be underpaid workaholic. But I didn’t come in and make demands. I kind of presented my evidence-based argument. So it’s really tricky being a woman. And I started studying males and females at the negotiation table holding everything constant. Men tend to do better than women. And it’s not because the woman is not trying, it’s because there’s this creepy thing called backlash. And the whole idea there is I think you should be grateful You should be lucky to be working here.



And so women are met with, in some sense, more negative responses when they ask for it. So that puts us in a dilemma. So should I just be kind of happy and poor and nice, or should I lean in and maybe risk having somebody think I’m ungrateful? So I kind of decide I better opt for the second choice, especially in today’s economy. So I coach women all the time on this is how to do the ask, but avoid the backlash. And it’s a fine thing to do. So to me, the answer to your question is why are the men all writing the negotiation books? I think that for some reason their publishing contracts are being accepted more than the woman’s book publishing contract. So I’m all about, it’s important to ask. The more you do it, the better you get, and there’s a way to do it.


Stephanie Everett (09:11):

Yeah, and I guess too, I don’t mean it’s your book, so you, you’ll go with this or tell me I’m completely wrong, but even the whole approach you take is negotiating the sweet spot. And I’d love for you obviously to tell us what you mean by that and what the sweet spot is. And I think there were so many times in reading this book that I thought, Huh, this is contrary to everything I’ve heard before. And so I was also just kind of curious of if you being a woman mean meant also that you approach negotiating the idea that we can find the sweet spot. So I guess we should just tell the listeners, I think the point you’re trying to make is we can all be winners if we figure out what each person’s interests are and how do we get to that place in a negotiation


Leigh Thompson (09:57):

That’s a hundred percent correct. So there’s a story that changed my life. So I was pursuing the world’s most boring dissertation thesis, and I traveled across campus, I found myself in a business school, and I thought, okay, I might as well sit in for the first course. And we were reading this kind of arcane type of article written by a female management science scholar from back in the day in the forties or fifties. Anyway, here’s the story. There’s two sisters, presumably they love each other, they have a history, they have a future, but they’re coring over a single orange. And in an effort to keep their relationship intact, they decide to do the completely logical thing of cutting it exactly in half. One sister takes her half, squeezes out the juice, throws the peel away, the other sister takes her half carefully zest the peel to make, I don’t know, scones, and then throws the juice away, and then the garbage truck comes and goes, Aye, only then that they have the realization that one of them only wanted the peel and the other wanted only the juice, and now it was too late.



This is the world’s silliest story that I started to find methodologies to see whether business people do this in business negotiations. And I found evidence that on average, 80% of people are throwing away 20% of the orange, which makes absolutely no sense. And so then I started calculating like, Oh my gosh, what does this add up to? So that’s what we mean by the sweet spot. It’s not divide things in half and fair and square and even Stephen and all these phrases that we’ve learned. It’s, look, if there’s an orange on this table between us, by all means, let’s find it because our instinct is to cut things in half. Somebody told us to do that in first grade to be nice and it’s bad advice.


Stephanie Everett (11:51):

And when I read that, I just also had the big light bulb where I was like, Oh yeah. And how often do we enter negotiations, which could be on behalf of our clients or just for ourselves? I mean, we’re negotiating all the time where we don’t stop and say, Wait, what is it that I really want? What is my objective here? And what could the other side’s objective be?


Leigh Thompson (12:13):

Right? That’s absolutely right. So I usually tell my students whether they’re JD MBAs or MBA students, like chances are there’s an orange. And so your job is to figure out how to find it and leverage it. Sometimes life doesn’t give us what we call a multidimensional negotiations. So I’ll be the first one to say that if the negotiation is just about price, if it’s just about what I’m gonna charge you for the used car, it’s really what we call a fixed sum negotiation. However much you gain, I lose. But if it’s like, Oh, do you wanna cashiers check or can I buy a down payment and I’ll do the pay for the title change, I’m kind of making some stuff up right now, but if there’s at least one other issue, we have the potential that there could be an orange.


Stephanie Everett (13:04):

Got it. Makes sense. And so is there advice on the front end that you give people, how should we maybe start differently so that we can start looking for oranges?


Leigh Thompson (13:15):

Yeah, see, I think that that’s the real critical question. So usually what we’ve read that you’re saying, Oh my gosh, everything we’ve read seems to be wrong. Usually what we’ve read is in some sense, what’s that term, keep a poker face , which translates into, I’m not gonna tell Stephanie anything. And the other thing that we’ve read is make the other party talk first. Well, here’s my point of view. My point of view is you’ve gotta assume that the person on the other side of the table is just as smart and motivated as you are and whatever book you’ve read, they’ve probably read it to. And so we have to have a method for that. So here’s what you should and shouldn’t tell the other party, never tell the opponent, I hate using that language. Let’s say never tell the counterparty your B A T N A, your best alternative to a negotiated agreement.



So I would certainly never say to you, Hey, if you don’t rent this apartment that I guess I’m trying to lease to somebody, my next best alternative is to run it to my sister’s kid and they’re gonna pray a hundred dollars a month. And that would not be a good idea because I don’t really have a good plan B. All right? So I usually tell people, attorneys included, Don’t reveal your BATNA because that’s your ACE card. But what you do wanna tell the other person is what parts of the orange you care about most. So I might say, Look, for every inch of peel that you give me, I will give you more juice. Now, that’s an absurd example, but in a business context, it might be like, Look, if you and I are doing some kind of a joint project and there’s IT needs, and then there’s research needs and there’s staffing needs, maybe I care more about having the IT needs being met and I have the staffing and vice versa for you.



So that’s the type of thing that I would wanna signal. The other thing is I tell people, you gotta be a first mover. Like every single published paper suggests that most of the time it’s to your advantage to make the opening offer. There is an exception to that. If you’ve done more due diligence on me than I’ve done on, you don’t make the opening offer because then you run the risk of the winner’s curse, I sound like a business person right now, Winner’s curse. What are we talking about? If I’m negotiating with you, Stephanie, and I say, Look, I want you to pay X for my services. And you say, Great, no problem. Where do I make out the check? If you immediately accept my opening offer, I haven’t asked for enough. That means I haven’t done my due diligence. So what you wanna do is you wanna make the opening offer pretty assertive, but you don’t wanna insult the other party. You’re gonna try to anchor the other party.


Stephanie Everett (16:12):

Yeah, I mean that resonates. What you said is if you’re the one who makes the opening offer, you do just that. You just anchored us of are we talking about $5,000 or $15,000? Because


Leigh Thompson (16:24):



Stephanie Everett (16:24):

Because if I thought we were talking about 15 and you start with five, chances are I’m not gonna get you to 15. But if I start with my 15, you might realize, Oh, we’re not at five


Leigh Thompson (16:36):

Yeah, and I got a couple more things to say about that because opening offers are so important. I tell all of my JD MBA and my MBA students, your opening offer is gonna make or break you. I say, Look, I don’t wanna scare you, but there’s so many people who don’t plan their opening offer. That’s a huge mistake. If you don’t plan it, you’re gonna be anchored psychologically by the other side. But here’s my feeling, to the extent that you can be precise and not use around number, we know from research that that will have more of a psychological anchoring effect. And what you don’t wanna do, I tell them, Please don’t state a range people state ranges to seem, Oh, I’m nice, I’m flexible. People are only gonna listen to the part of the range that’s good for them. So I’d rather have you make a specific point offer.


Stephanie Everett (17:30):

Interesting. Yeah, no, I’ve read that as well. One of the things you also talk about is that it’s okay to describe what the process of the negotiation is going to be on the front end, that you kind of come in and you can set a groundwork because a lot of people make assumptions about what a negotiation’s going to look like and how it’s going to work and maybe we’re not aligned or on the same page.


Leigh Thompson (17:52):

Absolutely. And maybe you and I have had some animosity through email or through whatever’s gone on, and so I’m arriving at the negotiation table already, kind of assuming the worst about you. So one of the most effective things that I coach people to do that you just talked about is if you can get the other party to agree on the process, you’ve already agreed on one thing. And in the book I write about this brilliant kind of move that one of these leaders made and said, Look, everybody feels very emotional about this discussion, myself included, but my ultimate goal is to reach an agreement here today. Is that your goal too? And everybody said, Oh yeah, absolutely. That would be certainly wonderful to reach agreement and not kind of protract this very expensive conflict. So by just doing that to


Stephanie Everett (18:45):

Avoid the lawyers, you can say it.


Leigh Thompson (18:46):

Yeah, exactly. So we love attorneys, but sometimes people don’t want to involve them because I hate to say this so bluntly, because they can in some sense eat up some of the ZOPA. Again, I’ve used another business term zone of possible agreement. So if you and I are transacting where business people and we can reach a mutual agreement, then we’re going to share those resources. If I’m having to pay an attorney, you’re having to pay an attorney X percent of what we’re doing, so there’s more kind of mouths to feed.


Stephanie Everett (19:23):

Yeah, that makes sense. And so agreeing on the process is a place where we can all just get on the same page. And I think what I read too is it opens the possibility of, Hey, let’s do some brainstorming or let’s share what our interest is, right? I’m interested, I’m interested in the peel the most, and the juice second, what about you? And that’s not something that I thought typically happens, or maybe it does, but it was a surprise to me


Leigh Thompson (19:51):

Because one of the things that I did my dissertation on several hundred years ago was this phenomena called the fixed pie perception, which is the usually unfounded assumption that whatever I want, you want the opposite. And so I just kind of project my own value drivers on you. And I think, Well, if the peel is most important to me, then Stephanie’s only gonna care about that. And of course, you and I know that the statistical likelihood of that always being the case has gotta be low. But I wanna give the listeners two strategies besides just like, Oh, I’m gonna talk about an orange. Because sometimes people say, Look, I don’t trust you. I have no intention of talking about an orange with you. I’ve seen that conversation killer. So in the book, I talk about the dessert trade method. It’s my favorite, so I gotta explain it.



And that’s where what you do is you tell the counterparty like, Look, there’s three ways that I can see us resolving this issue or engaging in this transaction. And you’ve come up with three different packages. You could call ’em A, B, and C, you could call ’em a crem brulee or whatever you might wanna do. And here’s the key, and I cannot emphasize this enough. All three packages need to be of equivalent value to yourself. And I do have an example. This is a business example. Please forgive me. So there was a sales leader in a major airline, and the customer was being very aggressive, actually threatening to go to competitors and get better pricing. And so the salesperson said, I totally respect that you should shop around, but before you go, I wanna make you three possible term sheets. Each one of these term sheets will contain in some sense the size of the party.



He was purchasing charter flights. It will have amenities, it will have rebooking fees, and it will have kind of, I guess, certain things about future bookings. I’m gonna call ’em A, B, and C. All of these were of equal value for the salesperson. But he noticed immediately the customer was saying, I wanna hear a lot more about what you’re describing as dessert number B. And immediately my salesperson was able to use inductive reasoning to figure out what this customer hasn’t said it because he doesn’t trust me, but he must care a lot about the ability to change the booking or change the size of the party. And so he managed to keep the customer from going to the competitor, but he found a way to figure out the opponent’s value drivers without having an explicit conversation. So I just thought that that was a really clever way to say, before you go, I’m gonna give you an A, B and a C.


Stephanie Everett (22:45):

Yeah, I love that. And by doing that, you’re listening and getting that feedback of and hearing which one, and now we know which path we wanna go down. Makes sense?


Leigh Thompson (22:54):

Yes. There’s another strategy that I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t talk about this in front of attorneys, because I know that attorneys often like to get the contract signed, and then that is what it is. So in this method, and in the book, I call it the Colombo method, I’m old enough to remember a really old TV show that involved a bumbling detective played by Peter Falk, and it just seemed like he would be so close to the bad guy. And then the bad guy would think, Oh my gosh, Colombo’s leaving. But then Colombo would say Just one more thing. Anyway. So in this strategy, I encourage people to act like Peter Falk, and instead of just getting the heck out, you kind of say just one more thing. So in this strategy, what you do is say, Stephanie, you and I have just signed a contract and we’ve already sent it to the attorneys.



This is a legal contract. It’s a binding contract. Why don’t you and I now brainstorm to see whether we could improve upon the contracted terms in a way that gives you a better outcome and me a better outcome. So it would be almost like the sisters who’d cut the orange in half say, We’re cool, we’re cool, we’re cool, but now let’s brainstorm to see whether we can come up with a different division of the orange that will be simultaneously better for both of us. Now, the thing that I love about this strategy, this is the only time in life where I have identical incentives to you. Meaning the only way I’m gonna get more of the orange is if I find a way for Stephanie to get more of the orange. And I have lots of stories in my book about people who did such things. So you have that security blanket called a contract, and now you’re doing some brainstorming to see, Oh, if we tweak this, if I kind of pay you 10 more percent, but I give you a little bit more kind of ownership or something. So that’s one of my favorite strategies, but it kind of goes against most of our need for closure.


Stephanie Everett (24:48):

Yeah, I can almost feel our listeners probably like gasping right now, <laugh>. Cause it does


Leigh Thompson (24:54):

Gasping. Gasping, yes. But


Stephanie Everett (24:57):

Yes. But I could see where it could work under the right conditions. And like you said, we know we have an agreement, so the pressure’s off and we can relax and take a breath, and then we can approach it with a new fresh focus.


Leigh Thompson (25:10):

And that’s it. I like the way you said the pressure’s off. And I tell my students, and I tell my JD MBA students, This is not a do over. This is a do better. This is not a let’s start from scratch because that would be bargaining in bad faith.


Stephanie Everett (25:25):

Yeah, we need to take a quick break and hear from our sponsors when we come back. I wanna shift the conversation a little bit to communication styles.


Zack Glaser:

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Stephanie Everett (27:36):

I’m back with Leigh, and you’ve just given us all this great information about how we can approach negotiating differently to find that sweet spot. And I’ll just go ahead and say that the book is packed with all these hacks is what you call them, which I love of approaches and things you can do inside a negotiation and thinking about a negotiation. And we’re obviously not gonna cover all of them. But the other thing that you do in this book that was really important and helpful to me is you started to think about just relationships and behaviors and how we behave with one another, which it makes sense obviously is gonna impact a negotiation. It’s not just about what we say, but it’s all this other stuff that’s going on. And a lot of it, when I was reading the book, it seemed really relevant to me even as employers and employees or with my spouse and how I might negotiate with him and how we communicate with each other. So I thought maybe it would be helpful to just tackle a few of those, the traps that we fall into. And I guess the other sense that you’re really focused on now is how much more complicated it is now in a virtual world.


Leigh Thompson (28:45):

Oh yeah, absolutely. And you’re right, there’s kind of three parts of the book. One is kind of how do you negotiate with people who are in your personal life that you presumably love? There’s another section on business workplace negotiations, and then there was this virtual section. But I must say I had lots of fun writing each section, especially the ones that take me outta my own business comfort zone. But one of my favorite studies that I wish to haven’t I’d done involved newlyweds, married people, long term dating partners who presumably love each other, and the control group was complete strangers. And then the question was, Well, who’s gonna find the bigger orange? And I always tell my students, Now think about your answer. Because our gut tells us, Oh, people who love each other, the people who work in small businesses, the people who have these long term family-like offices, and I say, Oh boy, actually the newlyweds and the dating couples completely, suboptimized they immediately cut the orange in half because they don’t wanna rock the boat.



They somehow think, Oh my gosh, it’d be so unpleasant to have any kind of disagreement with these people who are in my small office. And so what I try to do in this book is kind of get away from this idea that conflict or negotiation means that we don’t like each other. And so I often counsel people to say, Look, if you’re negotiating with a roommate or somebody who is a business partner who you probably do have a personal relationship with, use the research in the book. Just say, I’ve heard that people who are in these long-term relationships oftentimes sub-optimize, so let’s talk this through so that we end up with the sweet spot, not kind of the sour spot.


Stephanie Everett (30:33):

Yeah, no, as I was reading it one day, my husband was nearby, and I think I was on that section and I was like, Oh, this is interesting. He was like, What? I’m like, Well, apparently we don’t really talk to each other very directly because we’re so used to being around each other that we just assume or we leave that out critical information that if you were someone not close to me, I would be very direct on this is what I need and this is how I need it, but you’re my husband, so I kind of tell you half things and just expect you’ll figure it out because you know me so well. And that’s leads us to disasters sometimes so


Leigh Thompson (31:06):

Well, or it leads you to be sitting in a restaurant that is both of your second choice because somehow I thought you wanted to go here. I’ve had couples tell me they’ve gone on vacations and it’s just like, Oh, seriously, both of us would’ve rather been in the mountains. Why are we at the beach? I don’t know. I mean, those are not too crazy of examples, but it can also happen again, a lot of business people don’t have an arms length relationship with their suppliers and they consider ’em partners. They have very long term relationships and the people come first and it’s great when the people come first, but there’s certain steps that we have to take to make sure that we are not throwing away 20% of the orange


Stephanie Everett (31:51):

You also talked about we don’t wanna hurt other people’s feelings or we think we could handle it. We’re tough, but that’s it. But you’re not. So if I’m gonna give you, you’re my employee and I need to give you feedback, I need to cloak it or I need to somehow soften it up because you’re not gonna be able to take what is harsh or critical, probably just clear and direct, quite frankly.


Leigh Thompson (32:16):

That’s absolutely right. So in the book, we talk about this research that we uncovered where people think, You know what? Just gimme the facts. I can handle it. I’m gonna embrace feedback. You need me to be filing more of these, whatever. But people think that if they challenge others, that they’ll completely fall apart and it will damage the relationship. So of course leads to this double speak where I need to read between the lines. So again, I think it’s kind of hard for a lot of us who work in small firms to all of a sudden change our behavior that we’ve been doing for the past 8, 10, 15 years. But again, my entry point is always I heard about this research, I certainly don’t wanna be a statistic. I’m trying to work on my communication skills. So let me just kind of put this out there. I wanna test some assumptions so that we don’t end up optimizing when maybe there’s a better solution.


Stephanie Everett (33:18):

Yeah, perfect. We don’t have too much time left, but before I let you go, what are your top tips for us now in a virtual world when we’re doing so much negotiation and just business in general online on Zoom?


Leigh Thompson (33:33):

Here are my top tips. In the book, I talk about this research that we did on the importance of having a five minute personal conversation before you jump into business. So people do that naturally when they’re physically, Oh, hey, how are you doing? Is it a nice day? And that releases all this like oxytocin and dopamine, and I trust you until you give me a reason not to. Trust is the default less for some reason you give me a reason not to. Virtually we don’t do that because we tend to be pretty transactional. We don’t have that mutual gaze. So what I tell people to do is to say, Look, Stephanie, you and I have some business matters to jump into. I know I’m prepared to do that, but I just thought before we jump into business matters, why don’t we just do a three minute check in?



Why? I’d love to tell you kind of what’s going on in my world, would love to know more about you, and then we can move into the business at hand so that way you can kind of say, there’s a reason why I’m doing this. The other thing I’m gonna say, and people don’t like me when I say this, turn on your camera. I mean, we have seen several hundred thousand dollars differences in our business simulations when people just turn on the camera. The reason why I hesitate saying this is that there is some research on Zoom fatigue, but turn on the camera at least during the first five minutes. And then I might say, You know what? I’m gonna turn my camera off because I’ve got some workers in the background or something like that. Turn on the camera initially because that kind of builds that trust that we’ve talked about because you definitely want trust to be the default.



So those are the top two tips that I give for negotiating when we’re the other tip, and again, I want the attorneys to take this with a grain of salt. If there is going to be a conflict or pushback, it’s much better for us to discuss that synchronously rather than asynchronously. I cannot tell you how many a business deal was completely torched because people banged off an email. So I actually work with one company. They happen to be a small company and they say, Look, here’s the new policy. Nothing but good news and updates should be sent via email because that starts the conflict spiral, pick up the phone, have this real time conversation. So those are my top virtual tips.


Stephanie Everett (36:03):

Yeah, those are great. The book is Negotiating the Sweet Spot, The Art of Leaving Nothing on the Table. I recommended to everyone. I think it, I welcome the new perspective cuz that really was what it was for me and maybe also of more female voices. We know we need that in the business world, and so I was really excited to find the book and then to be able to talk to you about it today.


Leigh Thompson (36:26):

Thank you so much. Thank you so much. This was a joy and a pleasure to have a opportunity to talk about it.



The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, are right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10-minute call with our team to learn more. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you.

Your Hosts

Stephanie Everett

Stephanie Everett is the Chief Growth Officer and Lead Business Coach of Lawyerist. She is the co-author of the bestselling book The Small Firm Roadmap Revisited and co-host of the weekly Lawyerist Podcast.

Featured Guests

Leigh Thompson Headshot

Leigh Thompson

Dr. Leigh Thompson is the J. Jay Gerber Distinguished Professor of Dispute Resolution and Organizations at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. An acclaimed researcher, author, and speaker, Thompson’s research focus on negotiation, creativity, and teamwork.

Thompson integrates her extensive research in the field of negotiation and conflict along with her training as a counselor to offer-up a playbook for finding the sweet spot in life’s toughest situations. She is the author of ten books including “The Truth about Negotiations” and “Creative Conspiracy: The New Rules of Breakthrough Collaboration.”

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Last updated November 2nd, 2022