Recently, the world’s greatest golfers gathered in Augusta, Georgia to compete in what many consider to be the sport’s most prestigious tournament — The Masters. Virtually every one of them had a nearly flawless and effortless swing, and most were capable of hitting the ball close to 300 yards — or more — with his driver. Each was also proficient with his irons, sand wedge and putter.
So what set the eventual winner, Jordan Spieth, apart from the rest of the field?
The championship trophy and green jacket usually go to the golfer who best conceives and most consistently executes a strategy for dealing with the unique challenges presented by Augusta National’s undulating design and difficult pin placements for the entire four-day tournament.
I’ve long espoused the theory that the best golfers and best negotiators share much in common. They are exceedingly polite. They are adept at managing risk and approach their task with carefully considered strategies designed to pursue their objective as aggressively as possible, while limiting, to the extent possible, their exposure to the obstacles, traps and hazards they will necessarily confront. They know when and when not to take chances, taking into account their own strengths and weaknesses and the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents.
Golfers arrive at every hole knowing, in advance, exactly where it will end. With that ultimate destination in mind, the great golfers “reverse engineer.” They analyze each hole in reverse to pinpoint the location from which they are likely to be most effective in hitting their next shot. Working backwards, they determine where they want their approach shot to land on the green, which dictates where they will need to be when they hit their approach shot, which, in turn, will determine how far and where they will need to drive their tee shot. Ordinarily, a golfer’s first shot covers the greatest distance, with each successive shot progressively shorter. Of course, golfers may need to make mid-course corrections depending upon how well they — and their opponents — execute their plans.
Those who are masters at negotiating tend to approach negotiations in a strikingly similar way. They first identify the target and then design a strategy to reach that target, calculating exactly how much distance they will need to cover. Working backwards, they, too, divide the distance into separate and increasingly smaller moves. When necessary, they make adjustments to account for changed circumstances and/or the actions of their opponents.
Consider approaching your next negotiation the way Jordan, Phil, Rory, Tiger and others approached Augusta. Identify the target and calculate the distance between start and finish. Divide that distance into successively smaller moves. Make mid-course corrections as needed. Be unfailingly courteous at all times. By the end of the day, chances are good that everyone will be shaking hands.
For those who master the art of negotiation, settlement is par for the course.
Floyd has proven to be enormously effective, gaining the trust and confidence of those who have utilized his services – as well as the respect and admiration of his peers, who recently elected him to serve as President-Elect of the Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) for 2015. Equally important, at least on a personal level, serving as a mediator and helping those who are experiencing the emotional upheaval of litigation – or threatened litigation – to resolve their disputes has proven to be his most gratifying professional endeavor to date. Floyd’s ability to genuinely listen and his natural instinct for problem-solving enable him to gently guide the parties toward a mutually acceptable resolution.
Today, offering his mediation services exclusively through Judicate West, he employs those same skills to assist others in resolving their disputes, helping them find closure and peace in the process.
Mediation Offices of Floyd J. Siegal