How to Negotiate Settlements in your Favour by Boosting your Skills for the Negotiation Table with Paul Sills

Paul SillsIn an exclusive Q&A with Legalwise Seminars, Barrister and Mediator Paul Sills shares insights into negotiating settlements in your favour. 



What is negotiation style and why is it important?

Negotiation style is both general and personal. There are well-recognised general styles: competitive, collaborative and avoiding are examples. Much more importantly is your personal style – how comfortable are you with conflict, what approach works best for your personality, how mindful are you, how well-prepared – all aspects of your personal style.


How can being a good communicator (and generally able to engage in conversations) enable better negotiation outcomes?

Negotiations are ultimately just conversations. Difficult conversations over contentious or conflicting narratives when people are in dispute but also stressful conversations in  commercial negotiations on the terms of an agreement. When we are under pressure we often do not communicate effectively and lose the opportunity to put our best foot forward. The better able you are to engage in difficult conversations the more effective a negotiator you will be.


What does ‘dirty tactics’ mean and what do negotiators need to look out for when navigating these types of discussions?

Dirty tactics are all the tricks that parties and their advisers use in negotiations to disrupt and undermine the negotiating position of the other party. The aim of all dirty tactics is to force you to lose faith in your position and your arguments. Being alert to their use and being centred so that you are not riled by such tactics is the key to holding your ground.


What’s a common mistake that you see In-house counsel make when undertaking a negotiation?

Poor preparation! Prepare by considering as best as you can all of the interests, motives and needs of the party you are negotiating with. Typically, preparation is self-centred and focused on how better to articulate what your side wants and why. But you are negotiating with a party or parties who have their own interests and needs to satisfy. Consider what they want and why.


You will also talk about ‘how to close the deal’. What key areas will you be touching on and how will In-house counsel be able to apply these skills in their day-to-day work?

As Kenny Rogers said – you need to know when to fold or when to hold. You need to know when you have created sufficient value for your team and how to leave value on the table for the other party. You need to know what the value of your alternatives to a negotiated deal are, the value of your interests and needs – all are essential in order to provide the negotiations with a framework and direction.

Paul Sills is a barrister with over 20 years’ experience working in global litigation markets. Paul is also an accomplished business leader, having been involved in a diverse range of companies (as CEO or director) including the marine industry, global health care and international freight. Paul has been engaged in mediations both as a legal advisor and as a client since 1995 and as a mediator since 2010. These have included multi-parties and complex issues surrounding Treaty of Waitangi settlements, aviation disasters, leaky homes, construction and receiverships. With a unique understanding of the challenges businesses and individuals face and drawing on his years of commercial and legal experience, Paul provides timely and cost-effective solutions for his clients. Paul’s appointments include Associate Member of AMINZ, a member of the panel of mediators for the Marine Industry Association, Triathlon NZ Age Group Adjudicator for 2015 and 2016 and a member of the panel of mediators for the New Zealand Law Society. Paul is approved to assist with the Society’s Early Resolution Service, as well as standard track mediations. As a barrister Paul maintains both an active commercial litigation practice and a comprehensive mediation practice. Contact Paul at or connect via Twitter Twitter or LinkedIn LinkedIn

For more information visit Paul’s website