When last we left we were talking about the problems that crop up when two parties don't negotiate in good faith. Although sometimes I think some people do that on purpose because they enjoy the conflict, overall I tend to believe that most parties would rather find ways to talk to each other and get some kind of resolution. Here are some tips for good faith negotiation.

1. Both parties need to know what they're negotiating on. This might seem like the simplest thing in the world but we've seen often that one group thinks they're battling for one thing while the other group assumes they want something else. Those things might as well be on the table before anything else starts, so that there are no surprises on the back end.

2. Both parties need to agree on the rules of engagement up front. Although it's possible that one group or the other might get upset during the proceedings and forget about this part, at least establishing them gives a sense of legitimacy to the entire process. Negotiations work best if there's a sense of decorum that's agreed upon.

3. Both parties should start off seeing which items they can agree on, or at least feel they can knock out of the way easily enough, and get them out of the way first. If the process can begin with a series of successes, it helps everything else move along smoothly.

4. With the remaining items, both parties need to lay out what they feel is their most non-negotiable items. What one finds is that there is almost always some wiggle room here and there, but the big dog items can be left for later because as the negotiating process goes on, one might find that these non-negotiable items have been taken care of in some fashion.

5. Debate in small chunks of time. As people get tired they start getting cranky, and when that happens people tend to say things they either don't really mean or mean but really didn't want to say. Never let any meeting to longer than 90 minutes, preferable 45 minutes, and make sure to break for either 15 or 30 minutes in between. You can meet more than once in a day, but try to follow this pattern throughout.

6. Don't get personal, and try not to take everything personally. Even if the debate is between two people, parties must remember to try to stick to the facts and offer up constructive issues rather than getting too much into personalities. This one is a general recommendation because sometimes the debate might be one party feels the other party doesn't treat them right, in which case that would be a personal discussion.

7. This is the biggie; don't try to get everything you want. If you do, you haven't really negotiated. Once again, unless the debate is truly about something personal, in which case it's possible that one party needs to get everything they want, a little bit of give and take can get a lot of things accomplished, even if you can't get it all. If you're negotiating for others, the idea is to always try to get the fairest deal, not necessarily the best deal. If you're negotiating for yourself, it could end up being the same thing.

When parties negotiate with each other fairly, both entities have the best opportunity to come out of things feeling good about what they've done, and then life can return to normal as quickly as possible.