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Deadlock Negotiations – Using the Right Key to Unlock the Solution

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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Taboo Topics – How to Manage High Conflict Subjects on Religion, Money, and Politics

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There are three topics they say you should not discuss when you’re in polite company: religion, money, and politics. However, with the grandstanding of political candidates engaging in conflict and drama-filled debates, it’s difficult to avoid talking politics when gathering with family and friends.

It is important to remember when a taboo topic works its way into the conversation that people hold their beliefs and values in high regard. Therefore, immediately attacking their position is a surefire way to find yourself in conflict.

It may seem impossible, but there are some things you can do to help manage these conversations, so they do not get out of control. The very first thing to consider before engaging in these taboo topics is to decide upfront, what is your intention and/or goal for entering this territory? Is it a debate where you stand your ground holding on to your dear beliefs convincing and persuading the other person to join you on your side? Or is it a genuine dialogue and an opportunity to understand each other’s perspective? If it is the latter, then consider these strategies or skills.

  1. Listen. So you might not agree with Aunt Lucy’s political beliefs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hear her out. Actively listening while she is speaking and not formulating your rebuttals or cutting her off shows consideration and respect. When she finishes talking, you then have the opportunity to voice your opinion. If you didn’t cut her off, there is a likely chance she won’t cut you off. However, if she does you could say, ” Aunt Lucy, I would like to voice my standpoint and then get your response. Would you be willing to listen without interruption?”
  2. Don’t attack. Be careful using words or phrases like: “stupid” or “ridiculous” or” that’s insane” or ” I can’t believe you like him/her.” It is essential that you don’t attack their views because in doing so you will find they will get defensive. Once this happens, feelings can get hurt, someone could say something they don’t mean, and no productive or reasonable conversation can occur.
  3. Ask questions. You may not agree with what they are saying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions to gain further understanding of their views. Perhaps, having an open mind and asking questions will open up a greater discussion. Asking questions will also so interest in the other’s views which can make them feel respected and appreciated. For example, “Uncle Jim, what is it you have heard in the media that has contributed to your opinion?”
  4. Breathe. Uncle Jim’s beliefs may ultimately clash with your convictions, and you might notice that your triggers are going off and that you’re getting angry. Take some deep breaths or excuse yourself for a moment to gain composure. But keeping your anger in check is an absolute must if you want to avoid intense and unconstructive conflicts.
  5. Agree to Disagree. The likelihood that you will change the other person’s opinion is far-reaching. There is a chance you might not even find common ground. But, doing one through four of these tips will help keep the conversation productive. You could say very kindly say, ” I hear what you are saying Uncle Bill, but I respectfully disagree. However, thank you for taking the time to explain your views.”

Nowadays everyone appears to have polarized views on religion, politics, and money. Disagreements on those views are bound to arise when they are discussed so figuring out how to manage those conversations constructively is key to avoiding intense conflicts and possibly damaging the relationship.

 

Have a Great Week!

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

Apprentice.

 

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