Injured Workers Support Network Training
Negotiating is an important skill when travelling through the Workers Compensation system. This will give you a brief overview on how to prepare, how to do and how to wrap up negotiation.
In general this may be obvious. The more complex the matter, the greater the options or variables available the more you have to think about it before you proceed with the negotiations.
These boundaries may be found within the law, your physical capacity, travel times, financial etc.… Once you know the boundaries then you know what you, despite everyone’s good will, will never be able to achieve.
This includes your family and supporters. It also includes the insurers, doctors, solicitors etc. that are involved in your matter. It is easier to talk to an insurer about getting your doctor to write a report if the insurer pays the doctor than it is to just be told that the insurer hasn’t received something from your doctor. You will only be able to find this out if you talk to your doctor first and get their limitations on writing a report for you.
Have a concrete picture in your mind what a win for you would be.
What would your life be like after you succeed? What would you be doing? This may be the easiest part – I wouldn’t be going to that Independent Medical Examiner. It could also be the most difficult part.
Before you plough into negotiations it is a great idea to get advice from others but be careful with that advice.
An exercise I use when I need to weigh up options I seek from others is the three wins three losses exercise.
And the reverse:
A toolbox for negotiation is a list of skills, strategies, tasks and actions you can use in the process of negotiation. It is important that you know the largest number of tools you have, and then learn as many as you can.
It’s best to think of the negotiation tools as a spectrum and we should never go to either extreme of this spectrum. If you are thinking about them, you are telling yourself you need to gather more negotiation tools.
Knowledge wins negotiations. The more you know compared to your “opposite number” the greater your chances are of winning the negotiation. Knowledge is truly the greatest tool.
The more you know about the rights and responsibilities you and they have, the greater your chances of success. That’s the reason why we use a solicitor when we go to the Workers Compensation Commission. Their knowledge is greater than ours and court is nothing but a place where negotiation happens.
Reading the information on our website, asking questions on our site and attending our members meetings are three great ways you can increase your knowledge.
Asking questions is a great negotiating strategy. It increases your knowledge while not giving away anything yourself. Asking questions also makes the other person feel that you are engaging with them –increasing the chances of a positive relationship which is what you want.
Friends do more for each other than enemies. This doesn’t mean you need to give anything away to them. Being polite, talking in a calm voice, having a smile on your face if you need to talk to them, these “tools” help the other person feel less anxious about talking to you and gives them a reason to be more generous to you than if there wasn’t a positive relationship.
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This is related to creating a positive relationship. You wont win every round- no one ever does. In the world of Workers Compensation things are also stacked against you if your injury doesn’t fit in to their ideal model. It is also a fact that you will need to go back time and time again to “negotiate” with the insurers in particular. To help ensure the next time it is important to forgive the other side if they “won” the last round. But you don’t forget what happened- that becomes part of your knowledge and can assist you when the same situation plays out again.
The worst mistake you can make is not to respond to the other side if they contact you. At law, if some one sues you and you don’t turn up to court or respond to the other persons lawyers, a judge will assume you agree with the person suing you and make a judgement against you. This is and example of what happens to most people when they don’t get a response but have to make a decision. If you don’t respond, they will think you agree with them and decide in their favour. So what ever you do, make sure you respond to the other side – you don’t need to do anything more than let them know you have received their letter, or heard what they have said- but you do need them to know you are still talking to them.
-In today’s world we do a lot of this through the email (for those with email). Please remember:
Emails between people are NOT conversations –they are letters and we think of them in the same as a physical letter. They are not “texting” and they are definitely not “conversations”. In negotiations do not respond without first thinking about an email as if it is a letter going through the normal physical postal system.
There’s an old debating rule: The person who gets angry first has lost. No matter how justified you may be, in negotiation this is true. Keep calm, talk in a normal voice, don’t swear. Those are tactics of negotiation; they aren’t just there to “keep the peace”. They are tactics that help you get what you want.
This is a common fault with non-professional negotiators. Those who try to do this will fail. I personally don’t believe that in all cases a win-win is possible, which is why I didn’t use that for the headline, but we should always have in the back of our minds a compromise we will live with. Some battles we will “give into” ( which is a tactic in itself if we do it on purpose) others we will hold out to the bitter end. But in no negotiation will any negotiation try to “crush” the other person. That’s not a negotiation –that’s and act of violence and if you get angry- you’ve already lost.
There are a few reasons for this but the main one for negotiations is knowledge for the future. The more you accurately remember what happened before, the greater your knowledge and the more you know than the opposition, the more likely you will be to win.
In the first of this series I said that before you start negotiating, you need to know what you want to end up with. There isa skill in ending a negotiation. A skill that is more important than how to begin an negotiation.
The conversation has taken place, you have the letter and you have a firm idea of what the other party will or won’t do and it’s time to end. What’s the secret to the ending though?
Asking the other party “is there anything more you want to add?” is an easy line to say and will give the other party the indication that you are prepared to finish the negotiation. There is nothing worse than when you think you have finished, tell the other party the outcome you are going to put into action, then find out that the other party wants to continue. You give away your “bottom line” and allows the other party to change their final offer to suit themselves.
As fun as it is to have a resounding victory, life is not a football game. There is no umpire or marked out playing field that holds in the players while the negotiation is happening. It is more than likely you will need to do business with that person again. If you seek to overpower them, they will be reluctant as a minimum to deal with you again.
“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.”Walter Elliott.
Though you may not win everything you want this time. If you remember that this negotiation is actually a series of negotiations over time you are likely to get a better result