Using Negotiation Skills for Conflict Resolution
As a negotiation skills keynote speaker, I often have audience members ask questions such as, “How do I resolve conflicts?” or “How do I cool down an emotional meeting?” In speaking to executives about sales and negotiation skills for more than 20 years, I stress the same negotiation skills used between manufacturer and supplier, are applicable to delivering bad news to a client or employees.
The need to reach agreement
For any organization to effectively function, agreement must be reached up and down the line in order to move forward with the business at hand. For the most part, we negotiate without making a big deal out of it.
For example, “Barbara, I know you’re swamped. If you can finish the marketing report by close of business today, don’t worry about the copy for the new product until Friday.”
Where it starts to get sticky, is if Barbara reports her marketing department has several employees who are in conflict and unless things gets resolved, she can’t promise a thing. In that case, there are tough conversations to prepare for, and it will be essential to find out what the real issues may be.
Even more tricky, Barbara, while an excellent marketing manager is not comfortable with confrontation and will sometimes say the wrong thing, especially when she is required to deliver difficult news.
Negotiation skills are not the domain of big shots wearing $1,000 suits. Anyone can be an effective negotiator, especially those of us who are sometimes forced to deliver difficult news and/or to resolve serious conflicts.
In Barbara’s case I cite above, her “problem” in not being comfortable is that she fears she will lose friends if the best decision favors another party.
Such a mindset helps no one. I would first stress to Barbara that in any resolution requiring negotiation she cannot take sides. There is always something that had led to the conflict (and indeed, Barbara’s favoritism may be part of the issue). Therefore, it is important in conflict resolution to get to the actual problem.
Once the mediator can determine what the problem might be – without emotion or lots of “baggage,” then the obstacle can be the emphasis of attention. The negotiator cannot fear addressing the issue and bringing it to the light of day.
If the issue, and not the emotions surrounding the issue, can be isolated, all of the parties can work to seek agreement. This step, while not tricky, does require persistence and calm. The negotiator cannot lose sight of the problem and let the meeting descend into warring factions or “hurt feelings.”
In reaching agreement, not everyone will be happy, and in fact no one may be completely happy. That is what compromise is all about. Executives delivering “bad news” or forcing sides to come together, may not win popularity contests, but they can be fair, honest and concerned.
In the end, the best light in which an executive may be viewed is, “She was compassionate and respectful. She heard my voice and treated me with respect.”
Negotiation skills are valuable tools for most anything we must resolve in our daily lives.
To contact Mike Hourigan, Negotiation Skills Motivational Speaker, Trainer and Consultant for an in-person or virtual presentation, please call. Contact Mike today at (704) 875-3030 or fill out the form below.