Archive for category: Negotiation

Dislike Conflict? Learn How to Effectively Negotiate

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Inherent dislike of direct disagreement is natural.

Emotional needs, such as the need to belong, the need to be liked by your peers or not appearing greedy appear to be at odds with asking for what you want and arguing for it.

Forcing yourself to jump into a negotiation without training for it, particularly when you are aware of your dislike or fear of negotiating can lead into a fight or flight response which makes learning to negotiate appear even more worrisome.

The good news is that everyone can learn to negotiate. The trick is to start small in situations that are low risk. Get comfortable asking for something small or a concession that you want. Don’t fret about whether you get it or not. Either way, acknowledge your success in having the courage to ask.

Most of us learned to swim by first getting comfortable in the water. In that way swimming has greater potential to be enjoyable in the long run. Jumping into the deep end or getting pushed in may work for some, but is likely to be counterproductive.

Taking the step to make “an ask” is an internal negotiation. You have to ask yourself, “what’s in it for me”? The answer is: While you have an inherent dislike of disagreement, learning to ask for something you want may reveal another inherent feature of you- your inherent self worth and value.



Conflict Resolution: When Winning Isn’t Everything

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“Win” is a self important, uninvited guest in conflict resolution. While rudeness to words is never appropriate, it is entirely reasonable to show “win” the door.

Defining a win is easy in sports, the teams agree to the definition before the game. In mediation, there is no shared meaning of SEG image 2“win”.

An essentialist view of language begs us to accept that the definition of the word win captures the essence of the word’s meaning in a universal sense. Popular culture embraces the essentialist view with book titles containing phrases such as Win-win, How to Win and Secrets of Winning, just to name a few. We accept that we know what the titles refer to and aspire to “win”.

The desire to “win” and acceptance of the essentialist’s view of the word is fueled by loss aversion, a term familiar to those who have read Daniel Kahneman’s works.

Does “win” fit into a tidy taxonomy?

Sports teams use scorekeepers. The tally after a game or match determines the winner.

What qualifies as a “win” in an academic test? Is any score above 90 a win? If the class material was very difficult, would a score above 80 be considered a win?

How do we determine a “win” in a divorce? In financial terms? Is finally escaping abuse in a marriage, in and of itself a “win”? Does a deadbeat spouse become a winner by avoiding child support for years? If the answer depends on who you ask, how can we claim an essential definition of win?

In politics, declaring and thus defining a “win” has been elevated to an art form.
Admitting loss, equally difficult to define, is rarely done in politics with the exception of an election in which a score is kept.

When winning is defined for a contest the term has relevance and meaning for that event or occurrence.

Outside the context of contests, “win” is an elusive friend that many claim to know, but few can identify in a line-up.

A non-essentialist views a complete, comprehensive definition of the word win as unnecessary and potentially harmful, except in cases such as a contest, for which the definition is necessary for that specific event.

In conflict resolution, the pre-game drive to “win” is unnecessary and harmful to the process. When we plan and strategize to “win” in a mediation or a trial, but define or spin the “win” to meet our criteria after the fact, win’s essence and value evaporates.

Conflict resolution is a process. It has a beginning, an end and a post script. Understanding the process and assisting others to navigate it has value. Determining a winner does not.

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