- They suggest realistic expectations
- They listen to both sides without bias
- They help stimulate alternative thinking or different approaches to a resolution
- The may suggest a compromise that neither party considered
- They may give both parties an “out” or a way to save face
Tag archive: communication
Do You Need a Mediation?
Webster’s defines mediation as “intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement or compromise.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines mediation as "a fair and efficient process to help you resolve your ...disputes and reach an agreement. A neutral mediator assists you in reaching a voluntary, negotiated agreement." The emphasis, which the EEOC includes in their definition, is on fairness and efficiency. If you are interested in labor meditations, please read more about the EEOC and negotiation here. By understanding those definitions, it seems that every business and diplomatic negotiation could use mediation. After all, what is negotiation if not the act of reaching an agreement? However, not every negotiation requires a mediator. Many times, the parties are able to reach an agreement on their own. On the other hand, certain situations such as deadlock or when communications have been compromised by heightened emotion, benefit greatly from mediation and even require mediation to be able to conclude negotiations. A mediator helps to diffuse conflict and to reach accord. He or she acts as a communications go-between. Dr. Chester Karrass tell us that mediators bring the following to a negotiation:Read more »
Negotiating Your Viewpoint
Ideas are like possessions; people don't like to part with them. An exchange of viewpoints can be a very tough negotiation. Remember these nine important items when you are negotiating your viewpoint. You will find yourself more successful in assuring your viewpoint prevails. 1. Talk less, listen more. The other person wants to be heard. Encourage them to talk freely about their viewpoint. This will provide you insights into why they feel they way they do. Chances are the other person will reciprocate and be more attentive when you speak. 2. Don't interrupt. Interruptions make people angry and block communication. 3. Don't be belligerent. While it might be more difficult to be soft spoken than harsh, a soft-spoken approach encourages the same treatment from the other person. An argumentative negotiating attitude is rarely successful in changing another person's opinion. 4. Don't be in a rush to bring up your own points. As a rule it is best to hear the other person's full viewpoint before expressing your own. Ensure they are satisfied that they have stated their full case. 5. Restate the other person's viewpoint and objectives as soon as you understand them. People like to know they are being heard and understood. This is an inexpensive concession you can make. It forces you to listen better and helps you to frame your viewpoint in the other person's terms. 6. Identify the key discussion points you are interested in and focus on them. Cover one point at a time and avoid trying to overwhelm with arguments. Use evidence to support your viewpoint (e.g. knowledge, legitimacy, time and effort). 7. Don't digress. Try to keep the other person from digressing. It helps to agree on nonessential issues temporarily. Agree to postpone a seemingly difficult issue until later so you can focus on areas where you are more likely to gain agreement. 8. Be for a point of view -- not against one. 9. Instill satisfaction in the other party--satisfaction that you have heard and understand their viewpoint. This way if your viewpoint is the one that ultimately prevails, you will have strengthened your personal relationship with them. And set the stage for future discussions when your viewpoints again differ.Read more »
Strategies for Negotiations
Let's review some negotiating strategies. 1.Leave yourself room to negotiate --but don't be ridiculous. Always give a reason for your position. 2. Be stingy with your concessions. Always consider your concessions as a "message" or information you are sending the other side. 3. Always tie a string to your concession and ask for something in return. This communicates to the other party that you don't have a lot of room to move; it communicates good will and your willingness to cooperate; and it introduces a talking point that might gain you additional information regarding their position. This new information could lead to a totally new solution. A solution you might have not considered before. 4. Patterns or rates of concessions are important. Always use declining numbers; don't always use whole numbers/percentages; don't match the other person's concessions-----instead say: "I can't afford to match that, because . . ." 5. Always provide reasons for the positions you take. This communication to the other party can encourage them to introduce new information that could create better paths to agreement and a better solution. 6. If you can, always get the other side to state their position first/make the first concession/or put out the first number. You may be surprised to find that the situation is better than what you anticipated. This information permits you to modify your response and change your negotiating strategy. 7. Consider the pressures 'Deadlines' can cause. Can you relieve your pressure by changing the Deadline? Can you cause pressure on the other side by enforcing a deadline? 8. It is generally wise to "Say NO once more" before coming to agreement. There usually is a way to make the deal a little bit better---for both sides. 9. When the opportunity presents itself, use the Considered Response, Limited Authority, Power of Legitimacy, the Bogey and the Flinch. They really do work and will provide you more negotiating power and create the opportunity for you to learn new information. 10. Remember "Catch Twenty-Two." Being real smart in the negotiation can be kind of dumb. Being a little dumb can be very smart. Don't know everything. Ask the other side to help you 'understand.' This conversation may open up avenues to agreement that you had not considered before.Read more »
Establishing Your Viewpoint
An exchange of viewpoints can be a very tough negotiation. Ideas are like possessions; people don’t want to part with them. Here are eight things to consider whenever you are persuading someone to accept your viewpoint: 1. Talk less, listen more. The other person wants to be heard. When you let the other person talk, you can gain many insights into their viewpoint. Chances are the other person will reciprocate and be more attentive when you speak. 2. Don’t interrupt. Interruptions make people angry and block communication. 3. Don’t be belligerent. When you feel strongly about something, it is more difficult to be soft spoken than harsh. But a soft-spoken person encourages the same treatment from others. An argumentative attitude has little success in changing opinions. 4. Don’t hurry to bring up your own points. As a rule it’s best to hear the other person’s full viewpoint before expressing your own. 5. Restate the other person’s position and objectives as soon as you understand them. People like to know they’ve been heard and understood. This is an inexpensive concession for you to make; it forces you to listen better; and helps you to phrase your points in the other person’s terms. 6. Identify the key issue and stick to it. Cover one point at a time and avoid trying to overwhelm with arguments. 7. Don’t digress and try to keep the other person from digressing. Three ways: temporarily agree on nonessential points, agree to discuss some issues later, treat some issues as not being relevant. 8. You will find it works better to be “for a point of view,” not against one. When you try to convince another to accept your viewpoint, realize that their acceptance may take some time. Give the other person time to get used to your ideas rather than attempting to force them to make a quick decision. People need time to assimilate anything new or different. You are asking the other person to exchange your new ideas for their old. It’s just like you are asking them to discard their old friends. Right or wrong, they have grown accustomed and committed to their viewpoints; and it is logical that they will be more receptive to your viewpoint if you simply give them time to adjust.Read more »
The E-mail Summary of Agreement
Many workplace agreements abort within days. After people spend long and difficult hours discussing issues such as budgets, schedules, costs to complete or personal matters they finally reach agreement. Both sides are pleased to have the talks behind them. All that remains is for each to do as agreed; at least that is what they hope will happen. The trouble is that in most internal negotiations, it is likely that both sides will walk away from the table with different pictures in their head of what was agreed to. The reason is that it is virtually impossible, except in the simplest negotiations, to remember all that was said in the course of give and take. Some parts of the discussion occurred early in the talks, other later, and still others at the last moment. Some points or concessions when made were tentative, others in jest, some firm. Task and non-task talk were mixed. In such a disparate flow of communication and information, it’s not surprising that even important matters may be difficult to recall or be misinterpreted. For this reason, it is essential to recapitulate the agreement and its details at closure. To do so accurately, good notes taken during the talks are called for. In external buy-sell or contract negotiations between companies, a written memorandum of agreement by both sides is common. A formal contract always follows. Even with that, serious misunderstandings still take place. Unfortunately, a written memorandum of agreement is rare for most internal workplace negotiations. Formal summaries of agreement are not documented and signed unless stipulated by company policy, government regulation or unhappy past experience involving civil rights disputes or lawsuits. Is it any wonder that internal negotiations are fraught with post-negotiation arguments? All of us have been involved in “You-said-I said” disputes. The way to reduce these arguments is to summarize in writing exactly what both sides agreed to as talks end, not later. If a written agreement seems too awkward at that time, then repeated verbal summarization is useful. Saying something like, “This is my interpretation of what we have agreed on. Do you agree?” Words like, “Is there something you would prefer to add or change?” helps. Going over every point in detail takes time but reduces aggravation later. Better yet is what one good manager I know does regularly. He ends every meeting or negotiation, be it with superiors, peers or subordinates, by not only reiterating what was settled but also doing one more thing. He sends all parties at the meeting an e-mail representing his summary of the outcome and solicits their response. Everyone he deals with has grown accustomed to his way of documenting agreements and filing them for easy recall later. “You said-I said” arguments with him are rare. His e-mail summaries carry the “power of legitimacy” and limit the range of disagreement.Read more »
Tradeoff Areas to Help Generate Cost or Work Savings
Collaborative Both-Win® negotiating is based on the idea that there is always a better way to resolve a problem. Below are more tradeoff suggestion that can potentially lead to both lower costs and less work.Read more »
- Meeting tradeoffs. Meetings are even worse than reports. Most are attended by too many highly paid people and helpful to few. Meetings are held too often for purposes that are not quite clear and that fail to cover what they hoped they would. Meetings suffer from a leadership gap, an agenda gap and a rules gap. Time and money savings are always possible here.
- Structural factor tradeoffs. Where work is done and when affects how well it will be done. So also do the rules surrounding what is to be done and how. These matters make a lot of difference in terms and cost and quality. Structural impediments to efficiency exist, often unseen, in systems and procedures, in computer programs designed to make work easier and in rules and regulations formulated by politicians in every city and state. Those who take the time to understand these structural factors governing work will be in a better position to make better use of resources and to lobby for productive change.
- Space and location tradeoffs. Efficiencies can be realized if analysis is addressed early enough to such matters as where offices are located, the interaction of executives for communication purposes, the space they need to do efficient work, their proximity to services and the level of talent required.
- Facilities tradeoffs. Friendly stress-free facilities help people work efficiently. Reasonable well-appointed dining rooms, healthy food, conference rooms, quiet areas, nearby parking and special services for employees with children should be more common. Where people sit, where they make copies and where they get a cup of good coffee says something of the sociology of the organization. On the other hand, some facilities I’ve seen, like executive dining rooms, are too elegant for their purpose. They get in the way of collaborative innovation rather than enhancing it.
- Equipment tradeoffs. You can buy a washing machine with bells and whistles that you will never use or buy the basic model. Somewhere in between is the one for you. Almost every piece of equipment purchased can do more than you will usually need and less than you will occasionally demand. Find a middle road. Let outsourcing fill in the capability gaps you decide not to cover. It will probably be less costly in the long run.
- Service allocation tradeoffs. Not everyone needs the same level of service or the same level of maintenance. Much depends on the volume of usage, the proximity to the user, the time of day the service is needed, the number of repairs required, whether outsourcing is readily available and the salaries and talents of those using and providing the service. Good tradeoffs are possible here.
- Communication and information flow tradeoffs. We cannot work without the new devices but we need better control of their use. An accounting firm had the courage to institute strong internet controls governing personal affairs. After some initial complaints, the new work rules were universally accepted at savings in productivity and repair and maintenance costs of computers that surprised everyone involved.
Creating a Negotiating Climate Conducive to Compromise and Collaboration
Differences are rarely easy to settle even when both sides have the best intentions. They are, however, easier to settle if an enabling climate of negotiation exists. Three factors play a major role in creating such a climate: where and when the talks occur, how emotional factors are handled and the degree to which those at the table are heard and listened to. If these factors are implemented, the meeting will go better. If not, the differences between the parties grow rather than diminish. A quiet, appropriate place and time to talk is essential. One would think that such a suggestion is only common sense. But I have seen some career-tipping internal negotiations conducted in the midst of clattering machinery, on busy stairways, and in crowded offices surrounded by curious listeners. Important meetings in today’s busy world are subject to frequent interruptions. That setting is no place to negotiate or decide anything. Sufficient time must be set aside to discuss major issues. Time tends to follow the 90-10 rule. Ninety percent of the time will be spent on minor points and ten percent on important matters. Time must be managed at any negotiation. Where critical matters are at stake an agenda should be negotiated and agreed to in advance. It takes good management skill to set up and run an effective session. A good negotiating climate must also deal with controlling emotional outbursts. Emotional outbursts are not uncommon in the workplace but occur more often in commercial buy-sell transactions. There, people feel less constrained to say what they please than in the office where they have to work with others on a daily basis. Nevertheless, unwelcome outbursts do occur at meetings and workplace negotiations that serve to disrupt ongoing dealings by making it more difficult to resolve problems peacefully. Managers must find ways to reduce these bursts of anger. Team leaders as well as all team members have a crucial role in diminishing emotional impediments. They must jointly insist that any outburst stop immediately regardless of whose dies or view is favored. The time to silence such outbursts is the moment harsh words arise. When members of the group collectively accept responsibility for keeping control of outbursts they will cease before they damage everyone there. The same can be said for insisting that everyone who has something to say is given the opportunity to do so. Each person at the meeting has a part is assuring that the right of others to be listened to not be impinged upon by snide remarks or negative body language. All at the session have a role in cutting highly emotional behavior short. If organizers fail to actively structure the time and place of talks, the issues to be covered, steps to diffuse dysfunctional emotional outbursts and techniques to foster open communication, then the climate of negotiation inevitably has a reduced chance of achieving meaningful results.Read more »
Criticism and its Negative Effects
As managers, peers or supervisors, we are often placed in the position of taking exception to how or what another person or subordinate is doing. It is not a pleasant role, one that if poorly handled can reap havoc with any relationship, even a good one. Most managers see criticism as a necessary part of their job responsibility in getting what needs to be done completed within designated quality, time and cost standards. What they wish to do is encourage subordinates or other to do the work in a better manner or to rid themselves of a certain dysfunctional habit that impedes their effectiveness. They generally do not wish to punish the person criticized, but instead view their action as constructive and appropriate. Some people criticize for unconstructive purposes. They seek not to improve but to raise their own self-respect at the expense of another. By finding fault or lashing out in anger at imperfections, they strive to establish their own dominance or superiority. I have even attended professional conferences where people criticized other professionals by pointing out petty errors in their reasoning or analysis for no reason but to look good. Criticism for these purposes is never constructive, guaranteed to do more harm than good to both recipient and sender. Whatever the reason, well-intended or not, there is far more criticism at work than need be. Most psychologists agree that criticism does not lead people to change behavior. Instead it creates anger and defensiveness on the part of the person criticized. Communication between the parties is shackled, and positive relationships impeded. Yet, we are left with a paradox. On the one hand criticism is ineffective, if not harmful. On the other hand, some criticism at work is certainly part of the habitual interaction of managers and subordinates everywhere. People at work do indeed fail to follow directions or make mistakes and need guidance in doing work correctly. The trouble is that, as managers, we may unintentionally provide negative feedback to another eve when we try to help them change as carefully as possible. For reasons beyond our control, the other may interpret our best intentions as faultfinding and resent both message and messenger. Constructive criticism that minimizes resentment is a difficult act to balance.Read more »