Tag archive: building-positive-work-relationships
The Age of Collaboration and Negotiation
Not a day goes by in this century that we are not reminded that our economic world is indeed flat. Competition in the global marketplace is more fierce than ever. The battle for market share, control of resources and technological dominance will continue for the balance of our lives. On a personal level there is little doubt that our jobs, our salaries and our standard of living will be increasingly affected. We see evidence of these changes everywhere. The workplace itself is changing under our feet and we must move with it. Disputes and disagreements between superiors, peers and subordinates are likely to increase as more of us become knowledge, information and service professionals rather than production or manufacturing executives. Top-down decision-making and management, while still dominant, will gradually give way more and more to team and project organization. We can safely project that members of these teams will be better educated than those of earlier generations. Each will have developed technically and professionally along paths of specialization previously unheard of. These “idea” people will feel strongly about their viewpoints and concerns. They will defend their ideas vigorously and have a lower tendency to be passive when confronted with conflicting views or values. The same factors will come to play on the factory floor and service sectors not at so fast a rate as in the professional classes. They will also demand a greater voice in how things are done and managed. They will want to negotiate a greater range of workplace issues. We are in the age of collaboration and negotiation as far as ideas and viewpoints are concerned. How we handle and resolve the rising tide of conflict is crucial. We can continue to deal with each other as we have in the past and accept an increasing level of dysfunction, or we can embrace a new approach that fosters the open exchange of ideas and increased innovation. What I propose is a new approach and model for working together and resolving difference harmoniously and productively in an economic world centered on ideas, constant innovation, individual choice and intense competition. That model, “The Effective Negotiating Virtuous Cycle,” with its emphasis on Collaborative Negotiating, Being Heard and Listened To, and Building Positive Relationships, when applied by each of us in the workplace, has the power to help us work together more effectively and lift our level of creativity to greater heights. With that our success in the global marketplace will grow.Read more »
The Difference Between Relationship-Based Compromise and Self-Centered Competitive Compromise
People negotiate for good reason. They don’t do so because they are lonely or have nothing else to do. A difference between them exists which one or both believe it best to resolve. At the very least they wish to protect their interests. At most, they wish to strike a deal that will best achieve what they want and need. Both realize that competition exists between their respective goals and both are defensive of their interest and positions. External and internal workplace negotiations are similar in those respects. Yet, internal and external negotiations must be conducted in importantly different ways. Internal dealings are far more we-centered as a rule than external ones. Both sides are clearly members of the same organization and share similar organizational goals. Both must work together in a measure of harmony from task to task and day to day. Self-centered strategies and tactics are frowned upon within the organization and recognized as counterproductive in the long run. Relationship-based approaches are paramount to building positive relations. Even when one’s goals seek to promote one’s interest through bargaining, the negotiator is best served when his or her inputs are recognized as being honest, respectful and worthy of trust. When those who oppose view the other person’s or words as bluffing, threatening, manipulative, untruthful or secretive, their relationship diminishes. The goal of relationship-based negotiators is to leave the table with a fair and reasonable agreement that commits both sides to work together cooperatively in the future; and, to forge an agreement that stands the test of time and can be resolved fairly when and if problems arise later. Such a settlement makes future negotiations easier and defuses problems and differences before they explode in anger. Relationship-based negotiators recognize the strategies and approaches they cannot use. Borderline tactics are shunned in workplace dealings. Tactics such as fait accompli, figure-finagling deception, word play, devil in the details and deliberate escalation are never used. These negotiation tactics are clearly counterproductive in workplace bargaining and dangerous to use in any negotiation because they incite anger and revenge in those who feel victimized by their use. External negotiations are not so closely limited in what is said and done. Often the goal externally is to do as well as one can do, but not leave the other party so dissatisfied that they fail to perform as agreed. Self-interest is a motivator in most conventional transactions as it is in internal dealings. Good relationships are generally valued in both types of negotiation. But there is one major difference between workplace bargaining and that between buyer-seller or union-management representative. In most external negotiations, competitive self-interest, not relationships, dominates the exchange. Even there certain limits to action prevail. Strategies that are illegal, coercive or abusive are taboo there as they are in the workplace. Relationship-based give and take rests on the premise that what one does and says at the negotiating table directly affects the relationship of the parties as much as the outcome itself. External negotiators, like commercial buyers and sellers, face one another at the table then go their mostly separate ways. Workplace negotiators have to face each other and work together every day. So when it comes to workplace negotiations good relations, rapport and open-honest dealing, matter a great deal. When these elements are missing, work will not get done effectively and creative collaboration becomes unlikely.Read more »
When Constructive Feedback Works Best
When a subordinate does something wrong or fails to follow directions, most managers feel justified in correcting their behavior by speaking to them in a constructive manner. If this constructive feedback is done well the individual may move toward positive change. If done poorly it will leave a trail of hurt feelings and result in little to no behavioral change. We will explore several approaches to constructive feedback designed to help other move in a positive direction.Read more »
- When you maintain a high ratio of positive to negative interactions. The manager who maintains a high ratio of positive to negative feedback will find their peers and subordinates more receptive to change. Later, by maintaining a good ratio over time, your words of advice when things go wrong will fall on friendlier ears.
- When your relationship with the other is good. Criticism, even when directed with the best of intentions, is hard to take. When the relationship between parties is strained, it is rarely effective and certain to be resented. The rule is simple; the stronger the bond between the parties the higher the probability the feedback will be accepted and acted upon. Building relationships based on respect, trust and appreciation is part of your job description no matter how busy you are.
- When it is asked for—but. When the other party requests your suggestions or advice is it generally wise to offer it, but be careful. What they might really want is not your honest opinion but some positive affirmation or approval instead. Criticism or feedback, solicited or not, is something done only with prudence, tact and forethought.
- When it is accepted as part of the training process. Constructive advice is accepted when it is provided as training. Once the training period is over, people tend to perceive further feedback not as training but as criticism. Instead of welcoming new suggestions they resent both the message and messenger.
- When the criticism or advice is specific and timely. Feedback provided for performance problems that took place is the past is far worse than none at all. Such feedback is destructive because it is likely to cause bickering and faultfinding rather than improvement. To be useful, feedback must not only be expressed soon after the problem arises but must also be focused on the specific task to be corrected.
- When both parties are involved in solving the problem together. The more associates have worked together to solve joint problems the less they will view their difference and associates’ corrections as criticism or ego-threatening.
- When the feedback is preceded by strong positives. If you find it necessary to criticize another the better way to do so is to start with positive things the other person has done and follow that with one (yes, one) specific and timely matter requiring improvement. Suggestions are more likely to be accepted if restricted to the main dish rather than a smorgasbord of large and small problems.
- When the advice allows the other to sort things out for themselves. The more you leave others free to work in their own way the more responsive they will be to your suggestions.
The FlyWheel Effect
What we say or do in daily interactions with associates affects how they feel about their relationship to us. It’s a negotiation that takes place virtually from moment to moment on the job. A positive working relationship is crucial for communication, collaboration and personal growth. One way to explain why some relationships are strong and energy-building while others are not is by understanding the “Flywheel Effect.” Imagine a wheel upside down, suspended on a base. The flywheel shows relationship strength and weakness as a moving object, spinning sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, and sometimes hardly turning at all. In a sense, the rate of flywheel spin is a barometer of a person’s ability to build and maintain positive relationships. Every time we experience a successful relationship, our flywheel spins faster. A strong, successful relationship has a fast-spinning wheel that will spin for a long time. The longer this relationship’s flywheel spins, the more momentum the flywheel has to keep spinning. A slow or stopped flywheel, however, denotes weakened relationships. It occurs when successful interactions are few and far between. It is a sign that connections are failing. Between successful interactions, the flywheel of a good relationship continues to spin. This inertial spinning can be looked at as our reserve strength, the strength we use to cope if difficult times occur between us. People who have weak relationships have slowly spinning flywheels and therefore have little or no reserve strength, a fact that is apparent in the way they fail to establish rapport or psychological connections with each other, especially when problems occur. Successfully working together puts a lot of spin on our wheel and can keep us going for a long time. For most of us, life consists much more of a series of small but pleasant experiences that work together to keep our wheel spinning smoothly and regularly.Read more »
Throwing Garbage on Their Lawn
There is a tactic of negotiating that buyers use to soften a saleperson’s resolve to hold their asking price. With the Karrass negotiation training classes, we call that tactic, “throwing garbage on their lawn.” The way it works is this: The buyer goes into the bargaining session with a long list of seller mistakes. These are problems or inadequacies created in the past by the selling organization. Examples of this tactic might include things like, “your last delivery was late.” Or “the colors of the product didn’t match your samples.” Or “you didn’t complete the order on time.”- each of these represents a distinct complaint or problem that a buyer might use to reduce the seller’s confidence. With each negative factor that is thrown onto the seller’s lawn, the seller’s determination to hold their position lessens. Their expectations fall, and with them, their prices. This negotiating tactic has worked well for salespeople for centuries, but it has no place in negotiations within a company. This is a crucial point. When trying to reach agreement within one company, positive relationship building between the parties must be the focus of every strategy or approach. Within an intra-company setting, reminding others of their past inadequacies rarely (if ever) leads to better performance or relationships. There is also another problem associated with throwing garbage on their lawn: the other side can always throw some back. And they usually do.Read more »
Improve your negotiations: avoid blind spots and meet in person
If you are seeking to improve your business negotiation results, there are many negotiating tactics and strategies that you can deploy. However, we want to highlight two simple solutions are 1) to meet in person (not virtually or over the phone) and 2) to identify common yet dangerous blind spots. Meeting in person It used to be that business negotiations almost always took place face to face. In the wired world, technology has allowed for people to meet using web technology and talk to each other without being in the same location. Businesses have embraced web/phone meetings as a cost-saving method, but does it improve your business negotiation result? In “Why Face to Face Meetings Matter” author Rieva Lesonsky writes that new research out of the Cornell University School of Hotel Management indicates that face-to-face meetings are best when:Read more »
- You are trying to capture attention/support
- You want inspire positive emotions
- You want to build relationships
You can email, tweet and even talk on the phone all you want, but there’s no substitute for the kind of energy and connection that happens when you actually get together with a colleague or customer in person.Avoiding blind spots We all have our blind spots—wrong assumptions or holes in our research or knowledge—that can be very detrimental if you aren’t aware of them and let them derail your business negotiation. Wharton Professor Richard Shell says that there are three types of assumptions that can negatively impact your negotiation.
- Assuming that a high level of conflict exists
- Assuming that everybody thinks the same way
- Overestimating the other party’s power and/or underestimating your own power.