Getting to No

"Principled negotiation is a strategy that seeks to move both parties away from polarizing and usually entrenched positions, and into the realm of interests. It asks how both parties can get their interests satisfied while keeping their relationship strong. Negotiating well means neither party need feel cheated, manipulated, or taken advantage of...

"[Autonomy is] one of five "core concerns" Shapiro's research identifies as critical in creating disputes and finding resolution. He defines autonomy as a person's freedom to make decisions for himself.

"The other core concerns are appreciation, or having actions acknowledged; affiliation, being treated as a colleague; status, feeling that others respect one's standing; and having roles and activities that are fulfilling. Cross one of the needs and conflict arises. Respect them, and compromise is around the corner.

"The most important element of effective negotiation is preparation, preparation, preparation... Advises Shapiro: 'Take those core concerns and write them on a piece of paper. Figure out which of them are being violated for you and for the other person.'

Listen First

"'There's a saying among negotiators that whoever talks the most during a negotiation loses,' says Bobby Covic, author of Everything's Negotiable! Being the first one to listen is crucial to building trust. Just getting the listening part of a negotiation right can satisfy many of the core concerns Shapiro cites.

"However, listening—really paying attention to what the other person has to say—is hard. Gregorio Billikopf, a negotiator for the University of California system, offers several good listening practices:

Sit Down...
Find Common Ground
Transition to the problem...
Move In...
Keep Your Cool...
Be Brief...
Avoid Empty Threats...
Get to 'No'
If you never hear "no," when you negotiate, you haven't asked for enough."

Read more in an article from Psychology Today from which the foregoing was excerpted, by following this link: http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-4253.html

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Harvard Course in Coping with International Conflict

The subject matter of this course from the Harvard Negotiation Project is international conflict. Its premise "is that international conflicts are not being handled as well as they might. Nations tend to react to the actions of others, rather than acting purposively to achieve their own ends. They focus on their own choices, instead of the choices of those they are trying to influence.

"The demands of special interests often outweigh the need for coherent policy. More concern is usually given to having the correct attitude toward any given problem and making an elegant statement about it than to bringing about beneficial change.

One reason for this state of affairs is that there is a shortage of systematic theory on how conflicts ought to be handled, and a shortage of skill in bringing theory to bear on practice.

"Because the problem is how we think about and deal with conflict generally -- rather than what we know about specific conflicts -- this course is not primarily concerned with transmitting large amounts of factual information. Instead it seeks to develop in students analytical skills for systematically bringing knowledge to bear on the practical question of "Who should do what tomorrow morning?" Equally important, it seeks to develop the capacity and desire to continue using and improving these skills in the light of future experience."

Course Materials
General MemorandumConcept Exercises
Problem Sets
Case Materials


Checklist for Difficult Conversations

"Preparing for the Conversation
Before going into the conversation, ask yourself some questions.
1. What is your purpose for having the conversation? What do you hope to accomplish? What would be an ideal outcome?...
2. What assumptions are you making about this person's intentions?...
3. What "buttons" of yours are being pushed?...
4. How is your attitude toward the conversation influencing your perception of it?...
5. Who is the "opponent"? What might he be thinking about this situation?...What are his needs and fears?...Begin to reframe the opponent as a partner.
6. What are your needs and fears? Are there any common concerns? Could there be?
7. How have you contributed to the problem? How has the other person?...

Four Steps to a Successful Outcome
Step #1: Inquiry
Cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity...
Step #2: Acknowledgment
Acknowledgment means showing that you've heard and understood...Acknowledgment can be difficult if we associate it with agreement. Keep them separate. My saying, "This sounds really important to you" doesn't mean I'm going to go along with your decision.
Step #3: Advocacy
When you sense that your opponent has expressed all her energy on the topic, it's your turn...
Step #4: Problem-Solving
Now you're ready to begin building solutions...

Practice, Practice, Practice
The art of conversation is like any art—with continued practice, you acquire skill and ease. Here are some additional hints:

A successful outcome will depend on two things: how you are and what you say. How you are (centered, supportive, curious, problem-solving) will greatly influence what you say.

Acknowledge emotional energy—yours and your opponent/partner's—and direct it toward a useful purpose.

Know and return to your purpose at difficult moments.

Don't take verbal attacks personally. Help your opponent/partner come back to center.

Don't assume your opponent/partner can see things from your point of view.

Practice the conversation with a friend before holding the real one.

Mentally rehearse the conversation. See various possibilities and visualize yourself handling them with ease. Envision the outcome you're hoping for..."

Read much more in this excellent article from Pegasus.com from which the foregoing was quoted


Tips on Resolving Conflict

"Here are a few tips...for resolving conflict in your workplace and professional life:

"Don't be afraid of conflict...because conflict is a part of nature, a part of life...Consider conflict a way of learning to see things more clearly.

"Abandon the concept of winning and losing when faced with conflict. Instead, adopt a strategy of resolution...

"Be flexible...

"Avoid negative or confrontational language...try using positive language that disarms rather than confronts, such as 'I understand your position and...' or 'I can see your point and here is where I'm coming from...'

"Talk through the situation with a neutral party...

"Think of redirecting the energy toward a common target. Look for similarities in your positions rather than focusing on your differences...

Find something to distract you from the conflict...clear your mind, reevaluate your position, and perhaps come back to it with a fresh vision of what needs to be done to resolve the matter."

From the Beliefnet "From the Masters Newsletter


Twelve Conflict Resolution Skills

CRN explains twelve skills "which may be relevant to solving any conflict. Pick and choose the skill - or skills - appropriate to your particular issue or crisis.Once you achieved some expertise with Conflict Resolution, you will have gained the following learning outcomes:

"1. The win/win approach
Identify attitude shifts to respect all parties' needs.

"2. Creative response
Transform problems into creative opportunities.

"3. Empathy
Develop communication tools to build rapport. Use listening to clarify understanding.

"4. Appropriate assertiveness
Apply strategies to attack the problem not the person.

"5. Co-operative power
Eliminate "power over" to build "power with" others.

"6. Managing emotions
Express fear, anger, hurt and frustration wisely to effect change.

"7. Willingness to Resolve
Name personal issues that cloud the picture.

"8. Mapping the conflict
Define the issues needed to chart common needs and concerns.

"9. Development of options
Design creative solutions together.

"10. Introduction to negotiation
Plan and apply effective strategies to reach agreement.

"11. Introduction to mediation
Help conflicting parties to move towards solutions.

"12. Broadening perspectives
Evaluate the problem in its broader context."

© This CRN material can be freely reproduced provided this copyright notice appears on each page.


Free Courseware from MIT

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) has posted lecture notes and course materials for many of their classes. What a resource! Click for the courses available in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Sloan School of Management offers many courses, including Game Theory for Managers and Competitive Decision-Making and Negotiation. Doing a search on "mediation" brings up 159 hits for you to explore. A search on "conflict resolution" yields 291 hits. Enjoy mining for mind gold and learning from what you find. Thanks, MIT.

Hat tip to VeraSage.

See this Brains On Purpose™ post for active links


What We Have Here...

Is a Failure to Communicate:

"Think about the conversations you have throughout the course of any given day. Are all of them productive? If you’re like most people, they’re probably not. Realize that productive communication involves more than just two people talking. Communicating effectively requires planning, concentration, and consideration of others. So whether you need to talk with your spouse, hash out a problem with a friend, or land that next big business deal, here are some tips to add power and productivity to your conversations.

Tip One: Think Before You Speak...
Tip Two: Stop Talking and Listen...
Tip Three: Ask Questions...
Tip Four: Anticipate Distractions
Nothing you do will make others feel more important than giving them your full attention. Conduct your interaction in a quiet, peaceful location with a minimum of distractions. Turn off your pager and cell phone. If there are other conversations or events going on in the same room, ignore them. If an unavoidable interruption occurs, excuse yourself and return as quickly as possible. If you must end the conversation due to an unforeseen crisis, reschedule it for a later time.

Tip Five: Be Mindful of Your Volume and Tone
Your vocal tone gives the listener a snapshot of your feelings. If you want to show respect or affection, soften your tone. If you find yourself feeling impatient or angry during a conversation, listen to yourself to make sure your voice isn’t reflecting those emotions. If a conversation begins to turn into an argument, consciously lower your volume; often your listener will, too. Keep your voice calm and even whenever possible.

Tip Six: Handle Disagreements with Tact...
Tip Seven: Be Open to New Ideas...
Tip Eight: Take Notes...
Tip Nine: Watch Your Body Language...
Tip Ten: Eliminate Audible Pauses
There’s no need to fill every second of a conversation with sound. Verbal fluff (“ah,” “er,” “um,” “like,” “you know”) obscures your message and reduces your credibility. If you feel you are about to use a non-word, take a breath, hold it a moment, and then resume speaking. Use shorter sentences, or pause using silence instead of audible sounds. Becoming very familiar with your topic will help too. Practice what you want to say, but don’t sound rehearsed..."

Read more in this businessknowhow.com article from which the foregoing was quoted