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Life’s Negotiations – Insights I Learned

realty-1151243_1280One of the first eye-opening things I learned at the University of Baltimore in the Negotiation and Conflict Management program was that we negotiate every single day of our lives. Stuart Diamond writes in Getting More: How You Can Negotiate to Succeed in Work and Life, ” Negotiation is at the heart of human interaction. Every time people interact, there is negotiation going on: verbally or nonverbally, consciously or unconsciously“.

I never considered myself much of a negotiator until I started at UB. I never took into account that every time I spoke with someone about what we would have for dinner; what would we be doing on Friday night; or what color would we paint the living room, etc. would actually be a negotiation. I found this realization to be eye-opening because when I thought of people negotiating, I often thought of serious businesspeople in suits or a car lot salesmen or real estate agent. So when I had my first negotiation class, I naively thought the skills I would be learning would only be useful in a business setting or if I was buying a car – but I was wrong.

I want to share this week some tips I learned in my negotiation class that helps me in my everyday life.

The first thing I learned was from Roger Fisher and William Ury’s international bestseller book, Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In which is “separate the people from the problem”. It was a fantastic insight because I would often equate the person as THE PROBLEM. I would forget that people bring their emotions, values, and perspectives about the problem to every discussion as do I. Acknowledge the individual’s perspective and name the problem or issue between the two of you. For example, the issue is the purchase of your first home. Just because your spouse wants a colonial and you want a ranch-style home does not make one person the sole problem in selecting your perfect home. By not acknowledging that the person you are negotiating with is an individual who has their emotions, values and perspectives you are hindering the success of the negotiation.

The second thing I learned is that every individual, a negotiator, has a particular set of interests they are trying to satisfy, and it is important to focus on those and not on positions. Roger Fisher and William Ury in Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In explains, “Desires and concerns are interests. Interests motivate people; Your position is something you have decided upon“. Let’s go back to the house hunting. You decide you must have the ranch-style home. In your mind, this is it. It is your position or your strongly held decision. Your spouse says it must be a 2-story colonial. He grew up in one and there is no other way to live. Done deal. Negotiating on a position one might have can often lead to a deadlock where no solutions are generated and no house bought. However, negotiating on someone’s interests allows you to learn more about their concerns and provides you more room for discussion and resolution.

The third thing I learned, communication is everything in a negotiation. Whether you are negotiating with a business partner over the next big investment or with your significant other over where to go for dinner, what house to buy, or where to enjoy vacation – communication is essential in coming to a decision. It is important to be explicit in our interests and communicate them to the other person. It is also crucial to listen to the other party to hear their interests and concerns. Both sides then must be aware that one party may put a special meaning or emphasis on a particular interest which may bear no weight or special meaning to the other person. Therefore, clarifying and asking questions is imperative for better understanding.

The final thing I wanted to share may have been the most powerful thing I learned, and that is to view the person I am negotiating with as a partner and not an adversary. The example they gave in class is rather than thinking of yourselves sitting on opposite sides of a table think of yourselves sitting side-by-side both looking for an outcome that is mutually beneficial. By reframing the way you look at the person you are negotiating with, you provide yourself with an opportunity to be more open-minded and willing to engage in constructive conversation that could benefit both parties in achieving their desired outcomes.

Check out our negotiation series this month http://www.texasconflictcoach.com/category/upcoming-shows/

 

Happy Negotiating,

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

Apprentice

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Courage as a Choice: Building Your Courage Muscle

Cowardly-Lion-1In the classic 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz, I remember the scene with the Cowardly Lion who says,

Courage! What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?

Courage!

So what does it really mean to have courage especially in times of disagreement? Courage is the ability to stay strong and address what you find difficult, scary and challenging. Courage is a choice. Being courageous and fearless takes practice; it takes being vulnerable; it means making hard decisions and it requires action. Like any skill or behavior, it takes concerted effort to build.

For many people, including myself, encountering disagreements and facing escalating interpersonal conflict is scary. Interpersonal conflicts challenge our beliefs, values systems and our self-image. The closer we are to someone in a relationship whether it be our teenager, coworker, spouse, sibling, best friend, boss or neighbor, we are presented with opportunities to practice being vulnerable and courageous. So what steps can you take to build your courage muscle?

  • Name your fear or anxiety. Simply speak out loud to yourself and name the fear. For example,” I am afraid she will not talk to me anymore if I raise the issue.” Naming “it” lessens the emotional impact.
  • Take a deep breath. Breathing slows your brain’s defensive reaction and helps you focus. When building muscle, you isolate the exercise to a specific muscle group which in turn strengthens the ability to use the muscle in a different way. Breathing helps manage anxiety.
  • Set your intention. What is a new courageous goal you will set for yourself when facing interpersonal conflict? For example, “My goal is to communicate my needs in a respectful manner regardless of whether the other person disagrees.”
  • Acknowledge every tiny step you take. It is important to build self-confidence by acknowledging every small risk, step or effort in building courage as you work toward your goal.
  • Speak your truth. This is not about debating who is right or wrong. It is about speaking from your heart and being vulnerable with the other person to share your deeper thoughts and emotions. It is about being authentic and genuine to who you are in the face of conflict.
  • Listen to the other person’s truth. Building our courage muscle also means receiving feedback and listening deeply to the other person’s truth and be willing to be present with them.

These are just a few strategies to practice courage and build your courage muscle.

Pattie Porter. LCSW

 

Listen and learn more with Eric Galton and Unbearable Conflict Requires Courageous Conversations

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Puzzle of Life: Where Does Conflict Fit?

Conflict is one piece of many in this puzzle we call life. One must know how to strategically place it into the puzzle so it does not interfere with the big picture called life. The conflict piece can come in many forms and shapes because it is forever changing. Intrapersonal picAs the puzzle master, one must use recognition and discovery to solve the pattern. There might perhaps, be a time where the piece may not fit perfectly. It is up to the individual to determine the correct place to put the piece in order to solve the puzzle.

To begin solving the puzzle it is important to start with the conflict(s) occurring within oneself. Conflicts occurring within are known in the conflict resolution field as intrapersonal conflict. The prefix intra as described by Dictionary.com is a prefix meaning “within”. These types of conflicts develop from our own, thoughts, ideas, values, emotions, assumptions, and self-criticism, etc.

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself? Felt restlessness or uneasiness about a certain situation? These thoughts and emotions can be described as intrapersonal conflict. For example, a friend was telling me about an internal problem she has been having recently. Over the past few months she has been contemplating about whether or not to purchase a new home. She is currently in an apartment and having a problem with the neighbor living above her. During the night she can hear the neighbor’s television, loud arguing, doors slamming and the smell of smoke coming through the vents. The thought of home owning seems very appeasing at the moment. She has never confronted the neighbor for fear of unnecessary tension between the two. Instead she bottles it up and acts as if a problem does not exist until the noise and smoke appear. Because she is the only one aware of the problem she does not consider it a conflict. It is only if and when she confronts the neighbor that she has engaged in interpersonal conflict…now we all know there is a problem.

To combat interpersonal conflict, there are several avenues she can make: retaliate and make noise of her own during odd hours, burn incense to block out the smoke coming through the vents, forgo speaking to the neighbor and contact the rental office, request a new apartment, confront the neighbor, etc. Making the wrong decision can have a major impact on her life. Questions she should consider are: what affect will the smoke have on my health, how will the decision affect my personal life, why should I stay, what options should I consider if I stay or move?

For additional help on developing questions for your interpersonal conflict consider The CINERGY® Conflict Management Coaching Blog – ConflictMastery™ Quest(ions) by Cinnie Noble.

Yvette Watson Jenkins
University of Baltimore Negotiation and Conflict Management

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Conflict’s Powerful Magnets: Identity, Emotions and Power

 

Trisha_Jones-1[1]zena ZumetaMost of us understand when there is a conflict, but we have not looked at what keeps us locked into the conflict. Those three components are powerful magnets for us. The program today will examine how identity, emotion and power work in conflict, and how understanding each of them can reduce their pull on us and show us paths out of the conflict.


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Emotional Intelligence – A Path to Building EI Competency (Part 2)

 Welcome back to Part 2 – Emotional Intelligence – A Path to Building EI Competency with Sheri Callahan. Last week, we introduced the importance of emotional intelligence and the need to raise self-awareness and build a critical skill set. We will identify emotional intelligence competencies and focus on tools, strategies and resources for you to build upon.

Join us as we talk with Sheri Callahan

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Somatic Skills for Conflict Resolvers- Practice

Conflict can often overwhelm us with raw emotion and intense stress. Our heart rate increases, vision narrows, and jaw clenches as our blood begins to boil. Conflict Resolvers are given ample training on how to verbally deescalate situations but lack exposure to skills that will allow them to address their physiological responses to stress experienced during conflict. But there are ways to lessen the severity and reduce the impact of these physiological responses.

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Somatic Skills for Conflict Resolvers- Foundation

 Conflict can often overwhelm us with raw emotion and intense stress. Our heart rate increases, vision narrows, and jaw clenches as our blood begins to boil. Conflict Resolvers are given ample training on how to verbally deescalate situations but lack exposure to skills that will allow them to address their physiological responses to stress experienced during conflict. But there are ways to lessen the severity and reduce the impact of these physiological responses.

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