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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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Mediating with True Believers

 

  Church congregations are not immune to conflict. Beth Padgett and Alexandria Skinner would argue that conflict is a sign of an active, engaged, and vital congregation. The question is not whether religious communities will have conflict, but how they will respond to it when it happens. Beth and Alexandria will discuss patterns of church conflict, as well as how mediators can invite clergy, staff, and members into trans-formative conversations where firmly held beliefs are part of the conflict and its transformation.   

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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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Unbearable Conflict Requires Courageous Conversation


Eric GaltonMany people have encountered great challenges and unbearable pain from disputes as a result of strongly held values, belief systems and personal principles. And yet, people have the courage and ability to break through these barriers and create a common bridge. Eric Galton, renowned mediator, is a catalyst for these breakthroughs providing people with a safe environment where they can experience something different from what they know. Changing how we think about our experience is about great communication, deep listening and hope. You will hear about stories highlighted from Galton’s book Stories Mediators Tell and tips and strategies that will guide you in difficult situations.

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Coexistence and Conflict June Radio Show Series

Coexistence and Conflict Radio Show Series

What happens when we are faced with a situation when our values and belief systems are so polarized it motivates us to hide or to fight vehemently?  Our so-called conflict becomes a protracted dispute for years to come. And yet, how do we begin to acknowledge these differences, embrace our diversity and learn how to coexist in these challenging situations.

The Texas Conflict Coach blog talk radio show will host a number of special guests.

When: Every Tuesday evening in June

Time: 5:00-5:30 pm PST/ 7:00-7:30 pm CST/8:00-8:30 pm EST

How: Call in live at 347-324-3591

Listen live and join the chat at www.blogtalkradio.com/texas-conflict-coach

Listen to archive shows or learn more at Texas Conflict Coach

June 7Coexistence and Conflict with Mari Fitzduff

Professor Fitzduff is the Program Director of the Coexistence and Conflict program at The Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. She will discuss her personal experiences living near the Killing Fields of Northern Ireland and how this motivated her to start the Coexistence and Conflict Program.

June 14I Shall Not Hate with Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish

Dr. Abuelaish will talk about his education as a Palestinian becoming a doctor, his work at an Israeli hospital delivering babies and going back and forth over the border to Gaza, and the night that 3 of his daughters were killed in an Israeli attack on Gaza.  Despite this tragedy, Dr. Abuelaish, who now lives in Toronto, Canada, still speaks out for peace.

June 21 – Mediating with True Believers with Beth Padgett and Xan Skinner

People often firmly hold onto beliefs about religion, sexuality/gender concepts, and even family traditions and child-rearing practices. Xan and Beth will identify and discuss barriers to transformation in conflicts related to firmly held beliefs and values. They will share successes they have experienced in their work with individuals and groups who came to mediation entrenched in fixed beliefs. They will also discuss what they learned about mediation, and about their roles as mediators, from mistakes, mis-steps and mishaps along the way.

June 28 – A Look Back at Hurricane Katrina – A Radical New Role for Conflict Management Professionals with Cindy Mazur

Cindy Mazur, a Director for Alternative Dispute Resolution at a federal agency that delivers emergency management services, will use Hurricane Katrina as a model  to discuss the phenomenology of disasters in America. Various deleterious factors can be forecast that impede effective emergency response. These factors can be better managed when one person is placed in a role to oversee and manage the crisis phase of a disaster. A Conflict Management Professional can unify the ad hoc crisis management team and ensure its accountability and engagement. Provision of a structural solution of this nature would signify a commitment by our government to mitigate human misery in disasters.

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