If you’ve ever run through a negotiation without bumping into any type of conflict resolution, congratulations. You’ve pulled off quite a coup. Conflict and negotiation, although unwelcome, are often common bedfellows when it comes to drawing up deals in any form of business.
Resolving conflict can be mentally exhausting and emotionally draining. However, knowing how to iron out disagreements can save a great deal from blowing up. Here are five conflict resolution tips from the experts at negotiations.com that can help you navigate rocky waters.
Avoid taking conflict personally
When negotiations turn sour, it’s easy to take things personally. After all, you’re just trying to build a successful business, so why is the other person being so difficult? This attitude can quickly bring gloom and doom to any hopes of finding a solution.
Instead of getting wrapped up in your own feelings, try to see things from the other person’s perspective. Maybe they’re not trying to be difficult but are instead worried about their own interests. By understanding where they’re coming from, you could find a way to work together towards a solution.
Face confrontation head on
When conflict rears its ugly head, the natural reaction is to shy away from it and hope it will go away. It rarely does and, in most cases, ignoring the issue can make things worse.
Negotiating experts say it’s best to nip the problem in the bud. This can help avoid a full-blown argument later. Also, by being the one to take charge, you can set the tone for how the conflict will be resolved.
Don’t get hijacked by your emotions
Negotiations can strike a nerve. When you feel triggered, try not to blow up. It’s easy to say something you later regret. Even if you apologize, the damage is already done. Keeping your cool helps you think clearly and make smart decisions.
When you feel temperatures rising, negotiation experts suggest to:
- Take a break. This could be as short as a five-minute walk or for a longer period, depending on the situation. Hitting the pause button gives everyone in the room a chance to calm down.
- Breathe. When you’re agitated, your breath and speech often accelerate. This can escalate the conflict. So, take deep breaths to help you relax and speak slowly and deliberately.
- Use “I” statements. For example, instead of saying “You’re being unreasonable,” try “I’m feeling frustrated because I’m not sure we’re on the same page.” This can help the other person feel heard and could diffuse the tension.
Use concessions tactically
Concessions are part and parcel of negotiation. Giving up something you’ve worked hard to win, isn’t in most people’s second nature. So, hoarding your concessions and using them as a last-ditch effort to salvage a deal can be tempting. However, that can backfire on you in a spectacular fashion. Then again, you don’t want to be scrambling indiscriminately to sweeten the pot either.
The key is to use your concessions tactically. This means being very selective about what you’re giving up, why, and when. It’s advisable to map out what concessions you’re willing to make before the meeting. Thinking up concessions on the spot during the meeting can lead to hasty decisions and undesirable compromises.
It’s a good idea to rank the concessions in terms of importance so you know what to give up and what to keep based on how discussions are progressing.
Words and how you use them can either inflame or soothe a tense situation. So, when you speak, be clear and concise about what you want and why. Misunderstanding or mishearing can sometimes birth the most intense conflicts.
In negotiation training sessions, a few ways participants learn to strengthen their communication skills are by:
- Focusing on what you do want, rather than what you don’t want. For example, instead of saying “I don’t want to lose this customer,” try “I want to find a way to keep this customer.”
- Listening more than you speak. This gives you a chance to really understand the other person’s position and find common ground.
- Being aware of your body language and tone. Both can influence how well your message is received.
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