October 10th, 2016

Three Strategies for Conflict Resolution

In this article from the Program on Negotiation form the Harvard Law School Katie Shonk as a staff writer shares three negotiation strategies to help parties mend their relationships, avoid a law suit and possibly even create value.

These are:

1.       “Avoid being provoked into an emotional response,

2.       Don’t abandon value-creating strategies, and

3.       Use time to your advantage.”

I would like to offer some additional comments on each of these recommendations. 

Besides avoid being provoked into an emotional response, I would recommend don’t be provoked at all regardless of how much provocation is offered by the other side.  Remain centered at all costs.  Don’t fall into the trap of losing your cool.    Eva Skolnik-Acker offers some very good tips on how to de-escalate a situation verbally.   These techniques work and are offered in my latest book, Peaceful Resolutions.  By making a point from the very beginning not to let anger take over no matter what, it is possible to stay focused on the issues, interests and negotiation at hand.   This is very disarming to the bully that tries to intimidate with false accusations or tries other ways to intimidate you.   Keep this in mind as you don’t fall prey to this technique and you remain focused on the problem. 

Secondly, as business negotiator I help clients to focus on issues beyond the money involved.  Generally both parties focus on the bottom line at the beginning.  However, as discussion proceeds, there are often a host of other interests that need to be addressed.   The article points out reputation and considering different preferences.  I would offer timing, quality, sensitive issues, family matters, implications going forward and host other interests that may need to be addressed beyond the initial matter of money.  As stated in the article often an apology can go a long way towards resolving differences.  Where relationships have been negatively impacted before I become involved, I always offer that my client consider an apology to help bring the negotiation back into focus.

Finally use time to your advantage.  You may simply need to hold out for the wrong person to leave and for the right person to come into the discussion. There can be a difference of opinion related to short term gain (loss) versus long term gain (loss) that matters more to one party than the other.  

By focusing on these areas it may be possible to reduce the anxiety and stress associated with a negotiation, avoid the trap of blaming others or blaming self, remain centered personally and with your team, focus on the problem, discover interests and develop a solution that can work for both parties.

Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA is an expert in conflict resolution dedicated to making thought-leading entrepreneurs and executives more successful. Michael’s books, The Servant Manager: 203 tips from the best places to work in America and Peaceful Resolutions: A 60-step illustrated guide to conflict resolution are available at http://mikegreg.com/books.   Free resources are available online at www.mikegreg.com. Check out the blog.  Contact Mike directly at mg@mikegreg.com or call (651) 633-5311. 

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