Negotiations take place all day long everywhere. There are formal negotiations that take place between politicians, religious leaders, world leaders, business professionals, and generals.
There are information negotiations that take place between business or property owners, married couples, siblings, and parents and their children. They are the means by which differences are settled and conflicts are resolved.
It doesn’t matter what kind of conflict you’re in. It’s very likely that your ability to negotiate is going to dictate how you come out of that conflict: Battered or Victorious.
In any negotiation, your attitude about the situation at hand, your knowledge of all of the factors, and your interpersonal skills are going to have a huge effect on the ultimate outcome.
In some way, shape, or form, how your feel about a particular situation is going to be expressed by your attitude. This can be verbal or non-verbal, but it will likely be picked up on by the person you’re in conflict with.
Your knowledge is your weapon in any negotiation. How much you know about a particular situation or cause of conflict is going to dictate your effectiveness in any negotiation. This includes your knowledge of the person you’re attempting to negotiate with.
If you’re in conflict with your spouse or partner, this comes in handy when you’re trying to resolve a conflict without creating more.
Your interpersonal skills will see you through the negotiation. These skills include:
• Healthy verbal communication
• Rapport building
• Decision making
• Problem solving
Healthy verbal communication involves being able to express yourself verbally without relying on sarcasm or aggression. Listening is key to any form of communication as it’s more important to listen than be heard in most situations.
Listening helps to build rapport which is especially important if your conflict involves children. Assertiveness should never be confused with being aggressive, and problem solving, and decision skills will help you move through certain steps of the negotiation process.
Formal negotiation occurs in six phases. Informal negotiation will include some, but not all of these.
• Clarification of goals
• Negotiate towards a win-win outcome
• Implementation of a course of action.
To better explain this, we’re going to look at an everyday example of an informal negotiation.
Reese and Paul just moved in together. They’ve been dating for 3 years, and they’ve recently got their first apartment. It has three bedrooms and two baths. Reese works from home, and Paul works in construction, but he has a love for action figures. They have their room, a room to serve as her office, and a room for Paul to have his ‘man cave’ in.
When they first moved in, Paul wanted the larger of the two spare rooms. He didn’t really give a reason for this, but Reese yielded because she didn’t think it was all that important. At that time, she only had her desk, computer, and printer to worry about along with various shelves. In all, she didn’t need that much space.
Rise of the conflict
However, as time passed, she began to branch out from writing to photography. This created a need for more space in her office. Afterall, she’s the one at the apartment all day, so her office should be comfortable.
She approaches Paul with her desire to switch her office and his man cave. Paul gets upset, and flat out refuses Reese’s suggestion.
Preparation, Discussion, and Clarification of Goals
In informal negotiations such as this one, preparation is likely to be absent or molded together with discussion.
Reese approaches Paul again, after he’s calmed, and pushes the issue. She needs more space to get her work done. The office she’d given up to move in with Paul was much larger, and through time she grew to need more space. Plus, the larger of the rooms had a bathroom in it which would make Reese’s workday much easier.
Paul didn’t want to give up the space because his collections were ever growing, and he worked hard. He thought that earned him the extra space.
A win-win situation is an outcome where all interested parties walk away from the negotiation feeling like they’ve gained something.
The trouble with the larger room for Paul was that it had a window that faced the pool area of the apartment community. It was also brighter, and the bright sun threatened the viability of some of his collectibles. Reese pointed this out to Paul to reinforce her argument.
Agreement and Implementation
Eventually, the two mutually decide to switch spare rooms giving the larger room to Reese for her office, and the smaller room with less direct sunlight to Paul for his collectibles. They spend the following Saturday switching rooms.
Both walk away happy about the terms of the negotiation.