Then reality sets in. Whether it’s a debate with the neighbour, a dispute with the local school board, a disagreement with your spouse or a colleague at work, the undeniable fact is that our lives are ripe with challenges and potential conflicts to resolve each day. And, choices need to be made on how to manage these to our advantage.
With the volume of potential strife coming our way each and every day, one would think that over time, we would master the art of negotiation. So why is it then that some deal better than others when it comes to conflict resolution? Can we truly manage the result in our favour? Is it simply nature vs. nurture?
For most, conflict is something to be avoided, ignored or forgotten. Conflict is a bad word. It is easier to turn the other cheek than face something head on. So, for those that deal with daily conflict with such ease and style, what is the secret? Most conflicts are perceived as having one winner and one loser. Is that really the case?
Conflict negotiation strategy and resolution is in fact a learned behavior honed through experience and practiced by the few. It is a learned behavior that is not to be feared, but in fact celebrated!
But does finding a win-win solution not contradict what a conflict is all about? Not necessarily, given the right mindset. If one approaches the discussion with the goal to replace the traditional elements of conflict with ones of mutual agreement, there is a new path to take forward.
Enhancing your knowledge of some of the best negotiation strategies & techniques is the key to finding a win-win solution for all involved. Here are some suggestions to try putting into action:
View the problem in manageable pieces: Simplify the problem by segmenting the arguments into manageable pieces. Don’t try to solve the entire puzzle at once, but discuss each piece individually as a manageable means to the end.
First impressions count! Don’t enter a discussion with your guard up and ready for a fight. Take a more neutral approach and carefully listen to your counterpart first in order to gain a real understanding of their position and the root causes of their arguments. First impressions count! Then respond.
Always show respect: Whether the cues are verbal or physical, take the fight and anxiety out of the negotiation by remembering that your so-called combatant is a person with a unique perception and background. Always remember there is something to learn in every situation. Showing genuine respect can go a very long way in calming any turbulent waters. You can defend your strong position and actually gain respect from your counterpart.
Provide a peace offering first: Try to move to a common ground quickly so both parties become less defensive and can then focus on resolving the real problem at hand. Offer something first to illustrate your willingness to negotiate and ability to move to the neutral ground and stay there. Be understanding and respectful of your counterpart’s legitimate obstacles and restrictions and if possible, help remove these roadblocks as a means to gain support for your position.
Know you’re bottom-line ahead of time: Do identify your negotiation strategies in advance. Be prepared to confidently communicate and defend your position, without anger or disrespect. Again, remain positive. Showing genuine respect, while defending your strong position, should actually gain respect from your counterpart.
Don’t get boxed into a corner: Ask open-ended questions to help disarm and neutralize any resistance or emotional responses to attack and defend. Asking your counterpart to clarify their statements helps to promote mutual understanding.
Stay focussed: Always keep in mind what your objectives are and not let emotion get in the way of reaching your ultimate goal. Stay the course. Be flexible in how you may get there, but don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve.
We need to change our mindset and perceive a potentially combative interaction as simply a challenge that needs to be resolved as a win-win for both parties. These discussions should not be feared, and they have the upside potential to lead to very unique and great solutions that were not planned in the first place!