So during a negotiation, when you know the other side is wrong in how they are viewing the world, what do you do? If you are like most of us, you probably have a tendency to try to use your negotiation styles and negotiating techniques to correct the other side’s perceptions. You may lecture them about why you’re right—and they’re wrong. The problem with doing this is that we know that this conflict resolution approach usually fails to resolve the conflict and often will only makes it worse. What we really need are some conflict resolution strategies that can help us to get out of situations like this.
Understand That Everyone Has Biased Fairness Perceptions
Both parties to a negotiation typically think they’re right and the other side is wrong because they can’t understand how the other side is thinking. Our sense of what would constitute a fair conflict resolution is biased by our own egocentrism, or the tendency to have difficulty seeing a situation from another person’s perspective. When caught up in a conflict, we need to try to overcome our self-centered fairness perceptions. One way that we can accomplish this is by enlisting an unbiased expert to offer their view of the facts in this negotiation.
Good Negotiators Don’t Use Threats
When we feel that we’ve been backed into a corner during a negotiation we often try to capture the other party’s attention by making a threat. Threats and other attention-getting moves, such as take-it-or-leave-it offers, are often a mistake. Because of the common human tendency to treat others the way they’ve been treated, the other side tends to respond to threats in kind, leading to an escalatory spiral and worsening conflict. Before making a threat, make sure you have exhausted all other options for managing the negotiation.
A Negotiation Not Is About “Us vs Them”
During a negotiation, we need to realize that in order to build both strong relationships and loyalty we need to rely on group connections. However, these are the same things that can also promote suspicion and hostility toward each side. As a result, groups in conflict tend to have an inaccurate understanding of each other’s views and to see the other’s positions as more extreme than they actually are. We can overcome the tendency to demonize the other side by looking for an identity or goal both share. What we are going to want to do at the start of a negotiation is to start things off by highlighting the common goal of reaching a fair and sustainable agreement. Try to identify and discuss points of similarity between both sides. The more points of connection you can identify, the more collaborative and productive the conflict resolution process is likely to be.
Take The Time To Identify The Deeper Issues
When we are negotiating with the other side, we might think that we know what the key issues are, but we might also be wrong. Our negotiations often seem to involve money: labor disputes, or family conflicts. These conflicts tend to be single-issue battles in which one side’s gain will inevitably be the other side’s loss. But disputes over money often involve much deeper causes of conflict. An example of this is the feeling that one is being disrespected. The next time you find yourself arguing over money, put that conversation on hold. Then explore each side’s deeper concerns. You need to listen closely to one another’s grievances, and try to come up with creative ways to address them.
Separate The Important Stuff From The Non-Important Stuff
As negotiators it is our responsibility to be able to separate what really matters from everything else in a negotiation. Conflict management can be hard to do when core values that negotiators believe are nonnegotiable are involved. We tend to err on the side of not negotiating when important issues are at stake. But many of the issues negotiators consider important are actually not that important — that is, the issues are only off-limits under certain conditions.
What All Of This Means For You
As every negotiator knows, conflict is a natural part of every principled negotiation. What we need to understand is that when we encounter conflict, we can’t just tell the other side that they are wrong. Instead, what we need to do is to develop and implement conflict resolution strategies that we can use to help both sides work their way through the conflict that has halted the negotiation.
In a negotiation, both sides generally think that they are right all the time. We may need to ask an outside expert to step in and help both sides see how things really are. When we feel threatened during a negotiation, we may make threats against the other side. We really should not do this because when we do this, they are going to retaliate and make threats against us and this won’t help anyone reach a deal. A negotiation is a process by which we create group connections with the other side. We can’t allow it to become an “us vs them” situation. We need to find areas where both sides are similar. What we are discussing during a negotiation may not be the real issues and we need to be willing to dive deeper to find out what really needs to be resolved. Although a negotiation may involve many issues, negotiators need to be able to separate the important issues from the less important issues.
We will always be living in a world that is filled with conflict. As negotiators we need to realize this and we need to identify and refine conflict resolution strategies that we can use. By doing this we’ll be able to keep our next negotiation moving forward even when conflict does occur. Find ways to deal with the conflicts that you face and you’ll have a better chance of being able to get the deals that you are looking for.
– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Negotiating Skills™
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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
We all know that it is tough to do a good job of negotiating a deal. In fact, many people dread negotiation, not recognizing that they negotiate on a regular, even daily basis. Most of us face formal negotiations throughout our personal and professional lives in many different forms during which we all use many different forms of negotiation styles and negotiating techniques: bargaining over the price of a new car, discussing the terms of a new job offer, or hammering out a contract with a supplier.