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Mediator gives lessons in ‘Deal Maker’

The cover photo of La Jolla Realtor Dr. Joseph Dean Klatt’s new book, “Deal Maker: Lessons from the Blind Master Negotiator,” says a lot about his handling of the subject matter inside: cards face up on the table, hands showing, nothing to hide.

The La Jolla High grad and high-profile Realtor, four-time president of the La Jolla Real Estate Brokers Association, uses a narrative, anecdotal approach in his new 30-chapter tome that was unveiled Jan. 15 at a book signing at D.G. Wills Books.

Undeterred by a tragic car accident that blinded him, Klatt went on to become a real estate broker, a Superior Court mediator, a certified legal assistant and inspirational speaker with five bachelor’s degrees, one master’s degree and a Ph.D. in several fields including speech, philosophy, real estate and law.

A Harvard Law School-trained master mediator who has studied worldwide and throughout California, and who is a frequent guest lecturer/professor at San Diego law schools, Klatt teamed with colleague Michael M. Forbes to impart some of what he’s learned over the years in mediating negotiations between commercial parties.

A learning process

Will reading Klatt’s book make you a master mediator?

“No, you have to go to Harvard to do that,” answered the amiable man, chuckling as his Seeing Eye dog, Lawson, sat curled up at his feet recently in his 1124 Wall St. office.

Can you learn something from the book to help in everyday life? “Absolutely,” replied Klatt, though he was quick to add that his book doesn’t pretend to be the “10 commandments” of mediation. Rather, it’s a treatise of common-sense wisdom gleaned from personal experience.

Mutual respect, according to Klatt, is central and key to any successful negotiation. “It is ever so important to show respect for the other party,” he said, adding: “To get respect, you have to give respect. You establish that level of respect, and in almost every case, you get the same respect in return.”

Honesty also goes a long way toward furthering a negotiation. So does being open-minded. Klatt ticked off a couple of other “winning” negotiating characteristics. “Willingness to listen to ideas,” he noted. “Thinking outside the box.”

Tips on both sides

Klatt’s book covers a variety of textbook bargaining styles, but it does so primarily through storytelling and illustration.

The book even discusses what not to do in negotiating. One chapter, titled “Train Wreck,” details a real-life negotiation gone awry. “We talk about common mistakes made by people, like those who are fixated on being right instead of getting a deal done,” Klatt said.

“Or try to squeeze every last penny out of a transaction and not leave any meat on the bone for the other guy to make a profit,” Forbes added.

The most difficult mediations of all, in Klatt’s view, involve multiple parties.

Who’s going to benefit from reading “Deal Maker: Lessons from the Blind Master Negotiator”?

“Hopefully about 6 billion people,” joked Klatt, noting that real estate agents, law students, mediators and other professionals can take something away from his new book.

“There’s something of value in there for everybody,” Forbes added. “Everyone has to negotiate multiple areas of their life every day.”