Is Conflict Resolution a Negotiation Skill?
Mike Hourigan, Negotiation and Conflict Resolution Speaker
As a national keynote speaker and breakout speaker helping people with their negotiation and conflict resolution skills, I am well aware of how words such as “negotiation” and “conflict resolution” are interchanged, even misused.
When I present to corporate and association audiences on negotiation skills, I talk of two broad classifications. There is “hard negotiation,” for example, when customers walk into a car dealership and attempt to negotiate the price of a vehicle. You really don’t care if you see the dealer again so both sides hammer away and the customer hopes for a deal. Such negotiation is in the minority of our experience.
However, the vast majority of negotiation is when both parties have an ongoing relationship, and both parties want to feel good about themselves. Generally, it is bargaining, where negotiation achieves a result that helps both sides. Negotiation doesn’t always mean we split the cherry pie into halves. It can be collaborative to build something together long term (let’s build a cherry pie business) or transformative (I want to give your family a cherry pie so you will like me) or many variations in-between. Along these lines, we want our business to business interactions to be a win/win.
But conflict is inevitable in the workplace or in life. Conflict resolution is a part of negotiation. In the workplace, both parties need to find a way to resolve the problem so they will continue to work with you, or you with them.
Not nearly as easy as Cherry Pie
Despite all of the courses and podcasts on negotiation, it is a learned art. I have witnessed numerous situations where smiley-faced empathetic negotiating parties start with “hands neatly folded in lap,” and then go from calm to cherry red the minute the negotiation doesn’t go their way.
Negotiation is not always easy. One of the biggest hindrances to negotiation is the negotiator, especially if the negotiator is emotional, biased, reactive or just likes to hear the sound of his/her voice. An emotional negotiator trying to negotiate an emotional conflict often results in a catastrophic negotiation. A negotiator who has an inflexible view will come across as a wrecking crane rather than a solution builder.
Conflict resolution, bringing together two sides at an impasse, can be turned into a productive interaction for everyone. In the case of conflict resolution, the negotiators and/or conflicted parties can achieve solid agreement providing people are willing to learn from one another. When conflicting differences are properly managed, that is when expression, mutual respect and understanding are allowed to flourish, everybody in the workplace wins. Not everyone will get everything they want, but they should come away satisfied that they were listened to, respected and were able to hammer out an agreement.
Some of the greatest solutions to major workplace or personal problems have been reached after conflicted parties are allowed to come together to hear each other out, express opinions and understand the other person’s point of view. Often, two sides can come together to achieve greatness.
Mike Hourigan Negotiation, Conflict Resolution Keynote Speaker and Breakout Speaker
Mike Hourigan, nationally acclaimed Negotiation and Conflict Speaker may be reached at: (704) 875-3030 or by filling out the form below.