The Closer

Deputy Chief Brenda Johnson, the lead character on the new TNT series The Closer, faces a group of Los Angeles' finest who do not know her, do not like her, and do not respect her. As a department head new to the department, Johnson is thoroughly resented. The newly formed Priority Homicide Squad is also a threat to the existing LAPD old boys club. Her challenge during the opening season, in addition to solving the homicides, is to overcome her squad's obvious dislike and disdain for her. Johnson is a CIA trained interrogator and was previously employed by Atlanta PD. Her excellent reputation for being "a closer", getting confessions that lead directly to convictions, is why she was brought in to head the new squad.

In negotiations being a closer is being someone able to actually bring discussions to a head and walk away with a signed agreement.

Mediators are expert at closing. That is what they do. They manage the process in a fashion that the parties ultimately come to an accord. Anything short of this is typically viewed as a failure. Their sole goal is to have the parties reach agreement.

The best negotiating that does not result in an agreement is less than satisfying. Corporate managers are not likely to appreciate all your hard work if you don't win more often than not. Corporations often lead managers to ignoring that accepting a bad proposal would be worse for the company than walking away from a deal. Most companies openly recognize and reward completion of negotiations more than the actual details of the transaction itself.

Closing a negotiation requires getting the other person to actually sign or agree. People naturally resist making final decisions. This is especially true when they feel they are being pressured. The climate of the discussions leading to this moment play a significant role in everyone being comfortable with signing the document or shaking hands to seal a deal. If tempers have flared during the discourse, seek ways to mend the personal fences before pressing for decisions. People need to feel in control to commit willingly.

The timing of asking for a signature or commitment is also important. If you sense the other person's unease, take a break and suggest a beverage or something to interject a chance to relax before actually sitting down to sign documents. Well timed breathers are a great way to diffuse mounting tension.

By the end of the first season in the series Closer, Deputy Chief Johnson has demonstrated to her squad and to the LAPD as a whole that she is, in fact, a Closer. Doing so she effectively converted her squad to silent but solid supporters. She did so by demonstrating that she can get the job done, with or without their willing support. Negotiators benefit if their reputation for doing what they say precedes them into settlement discussions. Not only does this make them more credible, it allows them to bluff on occasion.