Ultimate Path to Negotiation Process
By Marianna Sarkissova
“It is our choices, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." - J.K. Rowling
Conflicts bring disruptions to our lives.
No matter what discord we find ourselves in, our first inclination is to resolve it expeditiously, according to our principles and values. And while we are a very mixed nation with intriguely interwoven nationalities, cultures and ethnic groups, we all share the same fundamental values: we want to live in a safe, dignified environment, be able to care for our families and friends, give our children an education and make a positive contribution to this rapidly developing world. Contention, resembling a state of war, is not a climate we are habitually adapted to.
It is not natural for us to live in a conflict. We prefer to resolve it quickly. Yet, while the intent is there, we often find ourselves in a prolonged settlement process. Why is that? There can be myriad of reasons, of course. However, if we look at them closely, most of them are emotional by nature - mistrust, frustration, anger, stubbornness, fatigue, etc. Any of those feelings, consistently nurtured by our mind, can obscure our original intent and derail us from our path to efficient problem resolution.
It is no secret that our emotions drive our behavior. And while it is not an easy task to completely separate ourselves from disturbing feelings in the moment of conflict, there are ways to redirect our thought process that will awaken a different emotional pattern and work to our benefit. The following exercise will help you to start concentrating on the conflict resolution process as a system of getting from point A to point B in a productive, logical and satisfying way. To do this exercise, you will need a paper, pen, and a quiet environment where you can relax, think, and write your ideas and thoughts.
Here is what you need to do:
Closely look at all aspects of the conflict. Write down each contentious point and your personal resolution to it. Try to evaluate your solution proposals impartially. Be honest with yourself. Have you been fair? Describe pluses and minuses for yourself and for your counterpart and mark them respectively. How many pluses and minuses in each of them for you and for your counterpart? Count them. Keep in mind that not all solutions can be equally weighted, and one plus on one side may equal three pluses on the other side. Your goal is to get a noticeable equilibrium among positive outcomes between you and your opponent to encourage efficient settlement procedure. If you find your proposal significantly off-balance, continue working on it until both of you get relatively comparable outcomes.
Once you are satisfied with your proposal, leave it aside for a day or two. Let the seeds you planted in your mind fester for a little. Come back to your proposal with a fresh eye. Make changes (if necessary) and present it to your counterpart. Remember, it often requires a lot of courage to be willing to listen and compromise in a difficult situation. The ability to be flexible comes from internal strength and wisdom. Be the one who makes this first step toward peace and you will position yourself as a wise and intelligent opponent. Even if the other side does not accept your proposal, the benefits of this exercised are so significant that you will continue moving forward as a prepared and serious negotiator.
Consider the following benefits of this exercise:
- you allow yourself to take time to think and analyze the situation
- you are not in a reactive mode and therefore, the time to prepare and plan is on your side
- you are segregating the most important facts and clearly defining your and your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses
- you strategize for outcomes, not for the battle
- you plan for outcomes that are favorable to you
- you plan for outcomes that are acceptable to your opponent. You can only do this part of exercise by putting yourself in the shoes of your opponent. You start seeing this world through his/her eyes. It’s a tremendously beneficial position to you as the better you understand your counterpart’s goals and objectives, the more creative solutions you can offer.
- you are training your mind to be flexible and visionary which is essential for an efficient negotiation process