Negotiation is a dialogue between two or more people or parties, intended to reach an understanding, resolve point of difference, or gain advantage in outcome of dialogue, to produce an agreement upon courses of action, to bargain for individual or collective advantage, to craft outcomes to satisfy various interests of two people/parties involved in negotiation process.
Negotiation is a process where each party involved in negotiating tries to gain an advantage for themselves by the end of the process. Negotiation is intended to aim at compromise.
In any disagreement, individuals understandably aim to achieve the best possible outcome for their position (or perhaps an organisation they represent). However, the principles of fairness, seeking mutual benefit and maintaining a relationship are the keys to a successful outcome.
Effective negotiation helps you to resolve situations where what you want conflicts with what someone else wants. The aim of win-win negotiation is to find a solution that is acceptable to both parties, and leaves both parties feeling that they’ve won, in some way, after the event.
Negotiation can be a structured process using many different interpersonal skills.
Resolving Workplace Conflict constructively!
Here are some tips taken from those who resolve disputes for a living.
Find and enlist your adversary in finding, the real issues which are not necessarily the ones you are currently arguing about. Ask what are we fighting about? How can we work this out? What are we each trying to accomplish?
Good negotiating outcomes are a result of good relationships and relationships must be developed over time. Because of that, good negotiators are constantly looking for opportunities to enhance the relationship and strengthen their position. In some cases, the result of the negotiation is determined even before the individuals meet for discussion.
There are always 3 different truths in any argument, yours, mine and the actual truth. Neither of us can know “the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” only our own perception.
Validating and accepting your adversary’s perception does not obligate you to share it. By doing so, you are inviting him or her to join in the resolution process.
You must believe that the other party needs what you bring to the table as much as you want the negotiation to be a success. Also, be sure that that positivity is visible during the negotiation. Be aware of the tone of your voice and non-verbal body language while interacting with the other party.
Usually this involves each side having completely uninterrupted time (with an agreed upon limit) to express themselves about the conflict. Separate this from the process of seeking possible resolutions. People need to vent and be heard. Freed from the burden of unexpressed emotions they become available to generate and evaluate solutions.
Information is crucial for negotiation. Research the history, past problems or any sensitive points of the other party. The more knowledge you have about the situation of the other party, the better position you’ll be in to negotiate.
Don’t be upset if things don’t go your way. In these instances, it’s a good time to reevaluate all positions and return to the table. In most cases, as long as you know the highest and lowest expectations of each party a middle ground can usually be reached in the overlapping areas.
Habit 5 of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “[S]eek first to understand, then to be understood.” This means to listen with the intent to understand not respond. Communication is key to managing conflict and resolving problems. Feeing heard your adversary can now take the next step toward reconciliation.
When you have a strong belief in what you’re negotiating for, you will shine. Become a master at presenting your thoughts and ideas so that others see the value.
Document the resolution and the plan of action
and provide copies to both sides. Documentation is important for a lot of reasons. One is that it provides each party with an agreed roadmap for implementation. It can also be crucial if the dispute later becomes a legal case.
Additional guidelines for Managers
When staff members engage in conflict, the last thing they want to hear is that management has taken one side over the other. A manager that enters into conflict negotiation needs to show respect to both sides of the issue. The manager should give no indication whether she feels one side has a better argument or not. She should listen to both sides tell their complete stories and treat each argument as though it has merit. Allowing the sides to air their problems without judgment can be effective at dissolving hostilities.
A manager may enter into a conflict-negotiation scenario feeling that he wants to take time to collect all of the information necessary to present a balanced negotiation. The problem with waiting is that the conflict could spread and, by the time action is taken, the issue is affecting more people than it did when it started. A key to conflict negotiation is being able to identify the warning signs of conflict quickly and then acting decisively to negotiate a resolution. Information needs to be gathered quickly to be effective.
The win-win negotiating strategy applies to many situations, including contract negotiations as well as conflict resolution. Both sides in workplace hostility have something that they want. In some cases, you may find that the solution is simple.
For example, the sales department may be tired of the logistics people using the sales photocopier and causing the sales department to have to use money out of its budget to pay for more toner.
Find out why the logistics people are using the sales copier and come up with a win-win solution for both.
If the logistics people need a little extra funding in their budget to afford to use their own copier, then make the necessary moves to get that budget number approved. Workplace conflict can often bring company inadequacies to light.
This shows how the logistics department was shorted in its office supplies budget and the results that can have.
Rectifying these oversights often results in a win-win for both sides of the conflict, and it will be a lesson the company has learned for future budget negotiations.