It can be challenging for most of us to come up with solutions that allow the other side to save face. It’s not an easy task to step outside of ourselves and think like the other side. (Hey, they are the other side after all. How could they be right?) One technique we have used to bridge the gap to the foreign territory is the exercise of “writing the other side’s press release.” In other words, as you come up with options that they may find attractive, give yourself the hypothetical assignment of crafting a statement to the press that explains why the resolution is a “win” for the other person, as if you are the other person. Forcing yourself to go through this exercise will ensure that you frame proposals or options from a point of view that demonstrates benefit to the other side. It is rare that you will ever be in a situation in which you are writing a real (not just hypothetical) press release, but this practice can really make the difference when you are explaining how your proposal allows them to win as well.
That being said, there was one time Ron actually did write the press release to announce the other side’s “victory” (which, in reality, he had shaped and defined on behalf of his client). Ron represented a well-known news anchor that happened to be the single most desired local anchor in the country at the time. The news anchor was happy where he was and didn’t want to leave, but he wanted to be compensated accordingly. He also didn’t want too much attention on the dollars involved in the contract. The news station wanted to pay him, but they didn’t want the backlash of the largest contract of all time. So what did Ron do? He wrote a press release focusing on the length of the contract, which also happened to be the longest of all time. This made the news station’s management look like they had won the deal, since they would be able to keep him basically for life. Ron handed the press release to them, and they liked it so much that after a few tweaks they actually used it themselves.