Compromise can make work a better place. Negotiation is a life skill and process.
One of the most challenging places to handle conflict is at work. Conflict at work can create deep resentment and poor productivity. And if it continues for months (even years), it can affect your health.
As a manager, you need to look at your efforts. You may have to give a lot and get back only a little in return. If you don’t “budge,” you remain stuck without a resolution.
There is a way out – negotiate, negotiate, negotiate ( or compromise).
It can be very effective at work (and can relieve a lot of your stress), but it takes some commitment and you can do (and survive), it.
The following steps can lead you to being a great negotiator.
1. Be aware: Why are you there – to change a company policy or ask for a raise? You need an awareness of the situation. You also need to know your strengths and weaknesses. What do you do well? What do you need to work on?
2. Be prepared: Don’t walk into a situation without doing your homework. It will be a disaster if you don’t! You need to research your “topic” before you negotiate or compromise anything.
3. Talk to the right person: Make sure you’re talking to the right “decision makers” or authority figures. Don’t waste time talking to people who can’t help you resolve the problem.
4. Don’t assume: This may be your first time. Take it seriously and treat everyone with respect. Don’t take things for granted.
5. Be flexible: Nothing kills compromise (or negotiations) more than being rigid. You want to make sure that you “hear” all sides. Looking at all the pieces to the puzzle will create a better negotiation and will make you a better negotiator.
6. Don’t be competitive: This isn’t the Olympics (or a race). You’re not competing for a gold medal or a prize. Competition equals rigidity and if you think the rest of the team can’t sense “competition,” you’re dead wrong. People sense rigidity. It comes through in your body language.
7. Listen: Very important! Focus on what is said so that you understand all the parts of the situation, and take all views into consideration.
8. Don’t be critical: Are you a whiner or a perfectionist? Guess what? This type of person(ality) kills compromise almost immediately. If you walk in being critical or showing a “my way or the highway” mentality, you will turn off a lot of people and make the negotiation harder and tougher.
9. Work as a Team: Remember, everyone has a viewpoint and ideas that are important. You can learn from anyone! Listening to a different side can give you energy and the chance to settle something quickly, and painlessly.
10. Think “simple”: Have you ever watched three and four year olds play? They know how to share without a lot of fuss. They put things in perspective. They’re not inhibited. They know what they want and feel. They “simplify” cause they’re little. Learn from them. If things get hard and confusing, make it easier and simplify it.
11. Take a breather: Negotiating takes time. Sometimes it takes longer than you think. When you’ve reached a dead end or brick wall, take a “breather” to regroup. Go for a short walk, call a friend; whatever you need to change gears. When you’re stuck or blocked, you can’t do more, so why push things further? Taking a break gives you the chance to get things in perspective for the next round.
12. Get it on paper: You’ve spent a lot of time with this negotiation and you’ve agreed to the details. Get it on paper to make sure both sides agree. Think of this step as a contract. Whenever you are doing something “formal” (making a credit card purchase, opening a bank account), you’re asked for signature. Your signature acts as closure to the business deal. This is a business deal and needs the same kind of closure.
13. Shut up: Have you reached the end? Are both sides happy? Then, you’re done! When you’ve covered all your points and both sides are happy, shut up, close shop and leave.
Just follow the steps. You’ll get there. Remember, small steps are better than none. You build from small steps and learn from them. Negotiation takes time and is a process. There is no doubt about it!
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