Splitting the Difference May Not Be the Best Outcome

Splitting the Difference May Not Be the Best Outcome | Clare Piro

{3:18 minutes to read} In my past life advocating for clients in an adversarial process, getting to the point of splitting the difference was the last settlement proposal, and timing was everything. If your first offer is close to what you really want, there will be little room left to split the difference if your adversary low-balls their demand. For example, if you are looking for $5000 and ask for $5000 in support and your spouse offers $2000, you are going to lose in the “split the difference” scenario. So this practice encourages unrealistic offers and counteroffers, resulting in annoyance and insults (“How dare you!”) and prolonged negotiation.
More importantly and disappointingly, splitting the difference probably doesn’t meet the interests of either client, since it is merely a mathematical formula based upon meaningless offers to begin with. But it is a way that parties can settle, and to paraphrase something that’s repeated time and again in litigation: “a good settlement is when both parties leave unhappy.” Or, in other words, both parties lose.

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