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Negotiation Skills

How well do you negotiate? Can you learn to improve your communication skills and style?

Negotiation Skills
Be Prepared!

If it is possible, take the time to complete mapping of the conflict before you negotiate. (See topic in forum.)

Needs and Concerns:
What are my needs and concerns?  Am I really committed to using a Win/Win approach?  How will that affect my aims and actions? What behavioural style (Hara - see Behaviour Management for styles) do I and the other parties involved usually adopt?  What are the needs and concerns of the other parties involved?  What information do I need and what information do others need?  What are the key issues of this negotiation?

Options:  What issues do I wish to talk about, and what are my preferred outcomes?  What are my preferred options for meeting that outcome?  What other options could be considered?  What is my best alternative to a negotiated agreement?  What is my worst alternative to a negotiated agreement?  Can I reduce its negative effect?  In what currencies (what can I give that may not cost me anything but could be important to the other person) can I trade?  What would be easy for me to give and valuable for the other party to receive?  What can I ask for that is helpful for me and low cost for them?

Anticipating the Actual Meeting:  What is an appropriate time to carry out this negotiation?  What are the physical conditions in which I want the negotiations to occur?  What emotions of my own may I have to manage?  What emotions in others may I encounter and have to respond to?  In what ways will I manage and respond to these emotions?

Interaction
Choose a Win/Win mind-set - can I choose to look for options that meet all needs; remember win/win is an approach and an ideal not necessarily an achievable outcome.
Be clear on outcome - flexible on route - have I really worked out what I want?
Define needs versus solutions - don't jump to solutions - go through a mapping exercise and determine real needs.
Deal first with emotions - reduce emotions before talking to the person - get help if you have to!
Soft on the person, hard on the problem- make your focus the issues not each other!
'And' not 'but' - when we use 'but' we dismiss what the other person says; when we use 'and' we include their perspective as part of the big picture
Who's behind the scenes?- Is someone behind the scenes pulling the strings - what can you do about it?
Stress common areas of agreement- always try to negotiate by focussing on what you agree on before moving to areas you disagree on - could be 'we really want to foster the welfare of our children - do you agree'?
Is it fair?  Can you find an objective yardstick?
Develop a smorgasbord of options together-be creative think of many new ideas!
Help each other save face - focus on trying to make the relationship one that can work for the welfare of your children! If you can't learn some new skills!
Choose solutions that recognise the on-going relationship
Make it easy for the other person to say 'yes'.
Move from positional negotiation to 'interest based' or 'principled negotiation' - interest is your needs only, principle is something that is bigger then the both of you!

Closing
Have both parties really chosen their contract?
Will the agreement resolve or manage the problem?
Is the agreement specific enough about when, where, how, who and how much?
Is it balanced?  i.e. do both sides share responsibility for making it work?
What will we do if either party cannot keep to the contract?
Is a follow-up or review time built into the plan?


Negotiation Skills Checklist


PURPOSE:

To check over and evaluate the skills used, what worked and what else may be possible.



Were you clear about what outcome you wished to achieve?

Was this negotiation a co-operative or a confrontative process?  How did this show?

Do you feel there was trust between you both?

What built this?  (E.g. openness, credibility, integrity)

Did you talk about everyone's needs (and perhaps values or anxieties) in the   situation?

Did you move from positional negotiation to 'interest based' or 'principled negotiation'?

Did you need to separate any emotions from the problem?

Did you look at a number of possible options and solutions?

Did you search for an agreement that was fair to all concerned?

Did you focus on areas of agreement as much as on areas of disagreement?

Did you include any objections in your thinking?  Did you ignore or squash any objections?

Were you soft on the person, but hard on the problem?  (i.e. were you assertive about the problem while being respectful of the  How?

Did you close the negotiation with a clear contract?





© Adapted and re-written source Conflict Resolution Network
I like the post, and think it's worth noting all the points. how many people do you see Sage in your line of work taking notice of this advice in your line of work?

If you don't talk about it, how can anyone help you move forward!
imadad said
I like the post, and think it's worth noting all the points. how many people do you see Sage in your line of work taking notice of this advice in your line of work?
 I train people in these skills nearly every day. Most people who have a 'challenge' want to find a better way to deal with the problem and are very receptive to learn a new way of communicating. The people who do not want to change usually do not attend a training course unless they have to. It then depend on the skills of the presenter and the wilingness of the person attending if any change occurs. These topics are not taught as isolated topics but generally are linked to more extensive courses that often also deal with where the person is emotionally - emotions are probably the biggest hurdles or motivators to wanting to learn something new!
Sage - good stuff. It would be good if you do a piece on how to deal with psychopaths - or people with personality disorders?

 Maybe I am not explaining myself well enough
I second that Jon.

The hardest part of negotiation is assertiveness. You have to believe you are entitled to what you are negotiating over before you will be successful.

When one partner, in a divorced/separated, couple has had a feeling of powerlessness negotiating can be particularly troubling.

I think some of the tips above will be very helpful in this.

Junior Executive of SRL-Resources

Executive Member of SRL-Resources, the Family Law People on this site (Look for the Avatars). Be mindful what you post in public areas. 
  I have grown older and wiser, and believe in being calm in any situation where you have to negotiate an outcome that gives you something that you were trying to achieve in the first place. Several years ago I knew what I wanted, but emotions of the day clouded my judgement. So how do you convey to a person the idea of keeping emotions aside when they are in the very emotional state of seperation in the early stages? It would be nice to have you attend one of the meetings one night. As it is now practice to first mediate these are skills that people should be more aware of now.

If you don't talk about it, how can anyone help you move forward!
Jon Pearson said
Sage - good stuff. It would be good if you do a piece on how to deal with psychopaths - or people with personality disorders?
 I am not an expert on this but have done some training that was excellent; can share what I know. It is amazing how it fits with  the extreme behaviours of each personality style. I will add this in coming weeks. You always need to be very careful when 'judging' someone else to have a personality disorder especailly if they are not diagnosed; sometimes we are simply dealing with extreme stress behaviours - hard to know when you have cross the line to a personality disorder in some cases!
Artemis said
I second that Jon.

The hardest part of negotiation is assertiveness. You have to believe you are entitled to what you are negotiating over before you will be successful.

When one partner, in a divorced/separated, couple has had a feeling of powerlessness negotiating can be particularly troubling.

I think some of the tips above will be very helpful in this.
 Thanks Artemis - you are very correct in recognising the bigger picture - the need for a number of communication micro skills at the same time!
imadad said
  I have grown older and wiser, and believe in being calm in any situation where you have to negotiate an outcome that gives you something that you were trying to achieve in the first place. Several years ago I knew what I wanted, but emotions of the day clouded my judgement. So how do you convey to a person the idea of keeping emotions aside when they are in the very emotional state of seperation in the early stages? It would be nice to have you attend one of the meetings one night. As it is now practice to first mediate these are skills that people should be more aware of now.
 Many years ago I did teach mediation skills to Life-Line to set up a Family mediation service in an area in QLd. What was always important in this training was the section on emotions. Sometimes mediation really is difficult or may not really be appropriate if no work has been done on the emotions with one or both people. Mediation initially as a process was taught as a process that was voluntary; obviously the changes since I have not done this work has been wide and expectations on people to go to mediation has shifted from this voluntary position. I personally believe that in cases that are still very raw emotionally that the mediator may struggle or the participants can come away very dissatisfied as emotions are still really hampering moving forward. So I am a great believer that we need to defuse the emotional situation as much as possible so people can communicate. There is still room to do much work in the area of emotions; the anger management course I teach at present has been getting larger as people realise they must work through their emotional issues to be able to communicate in a way they desire, no matter what the issue is that they are facing.
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