Friday, 29 October 2010

Ten Tips for Negotiating Workplace Conflicts

from Jeffrey Krivis

Jobs Vacancy, Employment, Employment Jobs

1. Let people tell their story. Allowing people to speak their minds may increase the level of conflict, but that’s okay, says Krivis, because feeling heard can dramatically change an angry person’s outlook. And in the process, new information may surface that allows a solution to naturally emerge.

2. If someone refuses to budge, take the spotlight off them. When there is one hardliner refusing to budge during a multiparty conflict, suggests Krivis, just begin “settling around” them and work with the other parties. The holdout quickly sees the value of compromise when his or her perceived power is neutralized.

3. When someone seems “locked up,” dig for the emotion behind the stone face. Krivis recommends asking, “What is it you really want to achieve here?” Tapping into the person’s repressed emotion may provide the key to a solution.

4. When people are “picking flyspecks out of pepper,” come in with a reality check. It’s the mediator’s role to bring people back to reality by “wrenching their attention away from the grain of sand and having them focus on the whole beach.”

5. Identify the true impediment. In every conflict, says Krivis, ask yourself, “What is the true motivating factor here? What is really keeping this person from agreeing to a solution?”

6. Learn to “read minds.” Krivis suggests paying attention to body language and emotional tone as well as a person’s words. If you give people an opportunity, he says, most people involved in a dispute will gladly talk about themselves, which gives you a chance to ask more questions and gain more information about their perspective. That helps you anticipate how they might react, and manage the negotiation accordingly.

7. Think creatively about ways people can cooperate rather than clash. Spend your time building up the relationship, Krivis suggests, rather than just divvying up the matter in dispute.

8. “Edit the script” to help people see their situation in a different light. Retell their story in positive, forward-looking terms, says Krivis, and you can “give them the words to see their options in a new light.”

9. Avoid the “winner’s curse” by carefully pacing negotiation. When a solution seems too easy, people may experience second thoughts about whether they could have cut a better deal. Don’t rush to a conclusion even when you know you can wrap things up quickly, says Krivis. Keep the negotiation proceeding normally, for a reasonable amount of time, before the inevitable settlement.

10. Finally, realize that not every conflict can be solved. “Not every negotiation is going to have a win-win outcome. Not everyone can live together in harmony. ... There are times you just have to accept that both parties are going to leave the table equally unhappy.” When that happens, Krivis recommends, “Isolate the participants if possible and just move on.”

Improvisational negotiation, says Krivis, is “kind of like jazz. ... The chords you use depend on the chords you hear from the other participants, and vice versa. It’s a conversation. It’s organic. There are no limits on what can come out of mediation, and that’s what makes it such a powerful skill.”


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