Resolve Conflicts And Produce Better Footing Going Forward
When a conflict arises based on a right and wrong position the more you lock yourself into those positions. The more you clarify your position and defend it against attack, the more committed you become to it. The more you try to convince the other side of the impossibility of changing your opening position, the more difficult it becomes to do so. Your ego becomes identified with your position. You now have a new interest in "saving face" - in reconciling future action with past positions - making it less likely that any agreement will wisely reconcile the parties' original interest.
Arguing over positions is inefficient
Bargaining over positions creates incentives that stall settlement. Trying to improve any chance that any settlement is favorable to you by stubbornly holding to your position by deceiving the other party as to your true views to keep negotiations going.
Decision-making is difficult and time-consuming at best. Dragging one's feet, threatening to walk out, stonewalling, and other such tactics all increase the time and costs of reaching an agreement as well as risk that no agreement will be reached at all.
Let's look at an Alternative
1. Separate the people from the problem
The first point responds to the fact that human beings are not computers. We are creatures of strong emotions who often have radically different perceptions and have difficulty communicating clearly. Taking positions just makes this worse because people's egos become identified with their positions.
2. Focus on interests, not positions
Overcome the drawback of focusing on people's stated positions when the object of the negotiation is to satisfy their underlying interest. Compromising between positions is not likely to produce an agreement that will effectively take care of the human needs that led you to adopt those positions.
3. Invent multiple options looking for mutual gains before deciding what to do.
Sometimes it is difficult designing optimal solutions while under pressure. Having a lot at stake inhibits creativity. So does searching for the right solution. Set aside a designated time within which to think up a wide range of possible solutions that advance shared interests and creatively reconcile differing interests.
4. Insist that the result be based on some objective standard
This does not mean insisting that the terms be based on the standard you select, but only that some fair standard such as market value, expert opinion, custom, or law determine that outcome.
Note options that are already on the table and identify any criteria already suggested as a basis for agreement.
How do you propose to ahndle the people problem? Of your interests, which are most important? And what are some realistic objectives?
Differences in perception, feelings of frustration and anger, and difficulties in communication can be acknowledged and addressed. Each side should come to understand the interests of the other.
To sum it up
Focusing on basic interests, mutually satisfying options, and fair standards typically results in a wise agreement. And separating the people from the problem allows you to deal directly and empathetically with the other party as a human being regardless of any substantive differences, thus making possible an amicable outcome.
This blog is an excerpt from" Getting To Yes" Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In