Death of a Claim: The Impact of Loss Reactions on Bargaining
Suffolk University Law School
December 1, 2008
Negotiation Journal, Vol. 20, p. 539, 2004
Literature on dispute resolution emphasizes the emotional aspects of conflict. Much of the discussion assumes, however, that disputants' emotions are overt, or at least that parties are aware of their feelings. Writers also suggest that disputants can overcome emotional obstacles through relatively brief interactions, as by "venting" during the opening session of mediation. This article argues that some disputants suffer from a unique emotional reaction that strongly resembles the symptoms of people grieving over the death of a loved one or a fatal illness.
The article describes the psychological findings about reactions to loss by authors such as Freud, Bowlby and Kubler-Ross. It goes on to argue that some disputants avoid dealing with loss by clinging to the hope that they will be vindicated in court. The article describes a series of disabling reactions, similar to Kubler-Ross's five stages of dying, which can occur as a disputant suddenly faces the need to compromise a claim or defense - in effect, the "death of a claim" - to settle. The article concludes by offering advice to negotiators about how to deal with such loss reactions when they occur.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 15
Keywords: neurosis, mourning, grief, grieving, ego, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, John Bowlby, Sigmund Freud, numbness, denial, depression, divorce, family disputes, psychology, dysfunctional behavior
Date posted: December 3, 2008
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