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Understanding Impasse in Negotiation and Mediation: How to Prevent, Avoid, and Break Deadlock


Impasse is the point when negotiation breaks down and the parties head for the door, and without some intervention or course change, the deal is dead, the litigation continues, and the negotiation is over. This presenter of this course provides various techniques for recognizing the warning signs of an impending impasse so that minor impediments do not explode into major roadblocks. In addition, you will learn how to diagnose the cause of an impasses which will allow you to choose from among various techniques to resurrect the relationship, continue the negotiation, and reach resolution.


I. Heading Off Impasse
    A. Breaking Impasse Requires Work
    B. What Is the Major Cause of Impasse?
    C. Other Causes of Impasse
        1. Unreasonable Expectations
        2. Endowment Theory, Cognitive Bias, and Optimistic
        3. Availability Bias, Inadequate Information, and BATNA
    D. Emotional Play in Negotiating
        1. Perceptions of Unfairness, Ego, and Mistrust
        2. Conflicting Negotiation Styles and Tactics
        3. Nobody Likes to Lose
    E. The Right Negotiating Style
    F. Preparation and Impasse
    G. Warning Signs You're Heading to an Impasse
    H. Reflecting on Impasse
    I.  Stop It Before It Happens
       1. Take a Break
       2. Other Techniques to Avoid Impasse
       3. Dealing With Mistrust
       4. Take Away the Surprise
       5. More Techniques to Consider
     J.  Wrapping It Up 

Content Provided


The years following the Civil War were tumultuous ones for New York City, offering many opportunities to the dishonest. Unsavory politicians and errant members of the bench and bar were among those who took advantage of those troubled times. In December 1869, a letter was circulated among some of the city’s lawyers addressing those improprieties. It called for the creation of a new bar association to “sustain the profession in its proper position in the community, and thereby enable it ... to promote the interests of the public ....” More than 200 lawyers responded by signing a declaration of organization and in 1870 The Association of the Bar of the City of New York was born. The young organization quickly made its presence felt. Among its first activities was a campaign to defeat corrupt politicians and judges at the polls and to establish standards of conduct for those in the legal profession.

The association continues to work at political, legal and social reform, and maintaining high ethical standards for the legal profession. The association also continues to implement innovative means by which the disadvantaged may be helped. Much of this work is accomplished through the Association's more than 160 committees, each charged to consider a specific area of law or the profession.

The association has grown to more than 23,000 members. To serve them, the association strives to move ahead in many areas. The library is the largest member-funded law library in the country, and provides members with a “gateway” to online services, including free use of LexisNexis and WestLaw, while continuing to provide more traditional library services. The Small Law Firm Center, Career Management Program and other benefits are constantly evolving to serve members’ needs. More than 150 continuing legal education programs are presented annually.

The public good remains one of the association’s highest priorities. The Legal Referral Service, jointly sponsored by the association and the New York County Lawyers’ Association, provides an array of services directly aimed at serving the needs of the public. The City Bar Justice Center identifies the most pressing legal concerns of New York’s neediest and uses novel approaches to address them, often involving community participation.


Speaker / Author:

Photo of Joan Stearns Johnsen

Joan Stearns Johnsen

Joan Stearns Johnsen has concentrated her practice in the area of ADR for over 20 years. She has extensive experience as both an arbitrator and a mediator. In addition to her experience serving as a neutral, Ms. Stearns Johnsen is a teacher of arbitration and mediation skills and theory. She is a former member of the faculty at Albany Law School where she taught the Securities Arbitration Clinic, ADR and Negotiation and is a trainer of negotiation, mediation and arbitration skills including the related ethical issues. Among the entities for whom she has held trainings are: the Bar of the City of New York, Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney; Merrill Lynch, Bressler Amery and Ross, Burns and Levinson, and Wells Fargo. Before becoming a neutral, Joan was an Enforcement Attorney for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission in Washington, D.C., and in-house counsel for Smith Barney and the Commodity Exchange, Inc. in New York. She also is a former member of JAMS panel of neutrals in New York and in Boston.

Ms. Stearns Johnsen possesses extensive subject matter expertise in a variety of areas. She is particularly well known for her knowledge of securities, employment, and general commercial matters. Ms. Stearns Johnsen is a highly skilled mediator. She is often selected for her talent managing cases of high emotional content. In addition to her proficiency with in-person mediations, she is a leader in the field of telephonic mediation; a very popular and economical option.

Ms. Stearns Johnsen is well known throughout the ADR Community. Since 2010 she has co-chaired the ABA's Dispute Resolution Section's Teleconference Program which presents bi-monthly CLE's on various topics in mediation, arbitration and negotiation. She is on the Executive Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution with responsibility for continuing legal education and on the New York State Community Dispute Resolution Mediator Ethics Advisory Committee. In 2011 and 2012, she was a member of New York State's Division of Human Rights Committee on Mediation Expansion.

Ms. Stearns Johnsen is a member of the following mediation and arbitration panels: American Arbitration Association (AAA); International Institute for Conflict Resolution and Prevention (CPR); Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA/NASD); Resolute Systems); National Futures Association (NFA). She is admitted to practice in New York and the District of Columbia (inactive).

Ms. Stearns Johnsen received her J.D., Order of Barristers, from Case Western Reserve University School of Law, and her B.A. from Northwestern University.

Price (USD)

Standard Rate: $149.00

Course Code : 773143

Length : 1hr 17min
Recorded Date : 10/2/2013

Format Type : eLearning

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