You visited my company a few years ago to teach Managing Conflict with Confidence. I've tried for new behaviors but seem to have only two negotiation styles: wuss out or come on too strong. Help.
You have my empathy. I’ve been wrangling for years with damaging conflict habits. Just when I think I’ve overcome a weakness, it rears its head in a new way. For example, when I stop myself from interrupting in an argument, I often lead with a “you’re wrong and here’s why” tone when it’s my turn to talk. Not good. Perhaps the key is to expect a lifelong crash course in communication, finding clues and mentors along the way. If we look at emotional intelligence skills (negotiating, public speaking, writing, managing change, supervising, etc.) as “you’ve got it or you don’t”, we get discouraged. Some people give up. And that’s a shame, because we’re never too old to turn vulnerabilities into strengths.The most gifted negotiator I’ve had the luck to learn from is Mark, my oldest brother. No doubt he learned many life skills from our parents, but they went looking for him when important outcomes were at stake. He recently negotiated with a casino to get them to reset payout software to players’ advantage. He told me the agreement was “only fair”. But who negotiates with a casino and wins? He demonstrates confidence, poise, and concern for the other’s position and it pays off. Here’s how can you negotiate to win, or find a win-win:
Rule 1: Never negoitate against yourself. State your position, then pause. Don't offer a price reduction followed by an additional discount, or any concession followed by another. If possible, let the other party suggest the first dollar figure or data point. Learn their ideal outcome and plan your approach accordingly.
Rule 2: Figure out what the market will bear. When asked about desired pay, stifle your urge to name a salary. Ask what the company is considering, then make an honest case as to why your skills fall in the top end of that range. As Mark says, "Don't you have something good you can do with that money?" If you're not comfortable negotiating, plan to give additional earnings to your favoirte charity. Motivated!
Rule 3: Do your homework ahead of time so you can introduce relevant discussion points. This is vital to collaboration or compromise.
Rule 4: Play the hand you're dealt. Sometimes you should be assertive, sometimes you should just shut up. What's your desired outcome? Does your reaction yield that outcome? If not, why demonstrate it?
Rule 5: Let logic lead. Don't act on your bias; find emotional control. When I once hesitated to negotiate, Mark calculated the time I'd need to engage and outlined the money left on the table if I quit too soon. ("Isn't $X/minute worth it to you?") Motivated! Ralph Waldo Emerson in The Conduct of Life muses that "every calamity is a spur and valuable hint." How we handle disagreement indicates how we feel about ourselves. Conflict management is smart communication that allows a solution when problems arise. If you'd like a copy of our 1-page conflict skills self-assessment from a recent workplace training event, please get in touch.
Are you (or is "a friend") dealing with a communication challenge? Want your questions answered? If you've got a conflict, career block, communication, mentoring or teambuilding question to suggest, send it to Michelle at Michelle@GladieuxConsulting.com for publication consideration.
(Questions remain confidential and anonymous.)