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Deadlock Negotiations – Using the Right Key to Unlock the Solution

Posted on Sep 23 2016 under Blog Posts

lock-179583_1920Imagine yourself in a negotiation with someone – it could be over a car price; where to go on vacation with your family; or even something more significant like a salary increase for years of hard work. Whatever you’re negotiating you’ve come to the point in the conversation where neither you nor the other person is willing to budge from their position. Whether you call it a deadlock, a stalemate, or an impasse, it all means the same thing. Your conversation isn’t going anywhere, and you are not finding any solutions.

Why do impasses occur?

One reason an impasse occurs is that the parties are working from their positions or their rigid stance of what they want as the outcome rather than from their interests or actual needs. You know the saying, “I want what I want.” Nothing wrong with that concept except when the other person wants something different that doesn’t align with your outcome. The more people hold onto their positions, the more difficult it is to negotiate a mutual solution.

A second reason an impasse may occur is that we stop being creative in looking for solutions to our issue. We see a direct line to the resolution, however, if the other party disagrees with the path, we believe it is our job to convince them that our way is the right way. Instead of figuring out their needs and working with them to come up with creative solutions that could satisfy all party’s needs, we block the path.

A common negotiation I experienced when I use to waitress was requesting time off with the other servers. Asking for time off could become tough especially if multiple servers wanted off which limited the number of people to cover and required some to work doubles. Therefore, you would reach an impasse because both the other server and I want off and need someone to cover our shift.

How can you move past an impasse?

* Take a Break.  If you and the other party have been negotiating for some time, and it doesn’t appear you are going anywhere, take a break, get some fresh air and reconvene. Taking some time away might assist with new ideas and solutions when you come back to the table.

* Ask questions. If you and the other parties are focusing on your positions, you are discounting the interests, values, and concerns the other party might have that is driving their position. Ask questions to get to the bottom of what they need or want out of the negotiation. So to go back to my example I could ask other servers what they were doing that they needed the day off? Perhaps upon asking questions, we learn that I need the day off to go to a doctor’s appointment, and another server is taking off to go to the pool with the girlfriends.

*Brainstorm Creative Options. People will often limit their outcomes when they are negotiating because they are looking to meet their desires only and fear to get creative. Creativity in conflict often leads to the best outcomes for all parties. So when you are negotiating with another party listen to their interests, values, and concerns and determine commonalities and differences. Then work to generate any and all possible solutions that fit those everyday needs and what each person is willing to do to meet the different interests. They don’t have to make exact sense; they can be completely outlandish, and it is important not to discount any ideas.

So to go back to my requesting time off example, we could negotiate that I would reschedule my doctor’s appointment for a different day and the other server would get off. Or, she would reschedule her pool day with girlfriends, and I would get off. But, if we got creative; perhaps we learned that my appointment was in the earlier part of the shift and her pool day with girlfriends wasn’t schedule until later part. We negotiate that she would work until my doctor’s appointment was over and I would then come in to work so she could leave and meet her friends. The unique solutions we could come up with could satisfy both our needs and move us past an impasse.

Listen to our podcast, Negotiation 101: Building Blocks For Getting What You Need for more insights into everyday negotiations

 

Happy Negotiating,

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice


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