Are you the go-to person to solve conflict at work? Or do you feel you need to bring in someone to negotiate between you and a colleague? Read on for tips to deal with workplace issues.
I attended an introductory workshop in negotiation and conflict resolution earlier this year held by Andy Eklund, as part of my ongoing professional development. It was certainly an eye-opener so I thought I would share the top three points that continue to resonate with me.
Negotiation as defined by Roger Fisher and William Ury in Getting to Yes is “the primary method to resolve parties who disagree on an idea, attitude, outcome or action.” Conflict resolution is the process of ending a disagreement between parties in a constructive fashion.
Such problem-solving skills can be applied to our personal lives as well as our professional lives, assisting us in building closer and more satisfying relationships. They are skills worthy of honing over time for this and many other reasons.
Keeping the above descriptive terms in mind, I urge you to think about these key points I learned as you manoeuvre through your interaction with workmates, staff, suppliers, business partners, family, friends and others:
1. Take the person out of it.
In both negotiation and conflict work situations, you should improve (or at least not damage) the relationship between parties involved. Don’t let it get personal and just stick to business. Some tips include focusing on the end goal, undertake research into different personality types within the organisation to learn more about how each personality would approach different work scenarios, and see yourself working side by side attacking the problem, not each other. It’s a tough one as negotiation and conflict are part of being human.
2. Needs vs. wants
It’s important to negotiate what you need and not what you want. For example, you’re at a website planning meeting and “person A” thinks the news web page needs to be revamped urgently but “person B” wants to prioritise the sales web page. But what may be of utmost importance is to makeover the website’s home page, if it’s the first place visitors go to and the page to which your SEO and/or SEM efforts are directed. In this scenario, all parties should visualise being judges on the same side of the negotiation table with the business’ key goals top of mind, reviewing all interests and prioritising them to make the best decision.
3. Brainstorm all the options, not just one
According to Andy’s material, the skill of inventing options is one of the most useful assets a negotiator can have – and creativity is critical. Options are all the suggestions, offers or possibilities that can be put forward to accommodate the interests of the parties involved. So brainstorm a variety of optimal solutions before deciding what to do, instead of trying to search for one solution at the start.
I love this quote: “Be careful of a man with firearms but no alternatives”- Ryszard Kapuscinski, Polish journalist.
Note the above is just a snapshot. To explore negotiation and conflict resolution topics in more detail, I highly recommend researching and/or attending webinars or a short course(s) such as these. As I’ve mentioned, the learnings can easily apply to situations outside of the work place.