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Posted by Jeevan Sivasubramaniam, Managing Director, Editorial, Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
Working towards resolving issues or problems can be awkward at first given the raw emotions involved. Author Stewart Levine, no stranger to the negotiation field as a professional consultant, negotiator, and former lawyer, has five key things to observe for a productive and supportive exchange:
1.Don't be so quick to blame or make someone the enemy. Surprisingly, most conflict is not the result of any kind of negative intention but miscommunication or misperception. Because we are all different in our approach to conflict, we need to agree clearly at the beginning as to exactly what the issue is. Inexact language only encourages conflict, so before you start assuming the worst of the other person, make sure you’re understanding the issue at heart.
2. When you are feeling stress, ask for a "time out" until you have your emotions under control. Conflict provokes a stress reaction. Before you can engage in meaningful collaborative dialogue, you must manage your stress. You’d be amazed what five minutes and a glass of cool water can do to reduce the tension.
3. The most powerful form of negotiating is to ask them what they want and create a way to give it to them. And let them know what you want and ask them to work on getting you what you want. Yes, it sounds a lot easier than it is, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t approach conflict mediation with this simple attitude that can make all the difference in the outcome.
4. Conflict lives inside each of us as a story -- it's the way we talk to ourselves about the situation. For both catharsis, and to share details, everyone involved should have their chance to tell their story from beginning to end (as should you), without interruption. And tell the whole story. Withholding vital information never works so you might as well let it all out and deal with it.
5. It’s tempting to try and end a mediation quickly by addressing only a few superficial issues and then concluding the exchange to escape the tension inherent to such meetings. Don't do it. The goal is always to reach a new agreement for the future and not for the present, otherwise the issues will just come up again. Think in terms of a long term resolution, not a short term transaction. Thinking long term will help you to create a sustainable relationship that can last longer and weather the bumps that are part of any partnership.
Remember: almost all conflict is emotionally motivated. The same emotional triggers prevent the resolution of conflict. Deal with the emotion and whatever the conflict was about will resolve itself.
Do you agree with Stewart? Do you have any insights or comments? Chime in below.