The Power of Negotiation: Knowing When to Fight

"Negotiating for what you want"
Negotiating for what you want

The very word “negotiation” implies potential conflict. When you enter into a negotiation, the participants often have different agendas or goals. That’s why negotiations can be difficult. Even the thought of it makes some people want to flee.

While few of us welcome confrontation, always “caving in” can sabotage your career or diminish your efforts to project a confident, powerful image when presenting your side of the story.

When confronted with someone who seems ready to pick a fight, these steps may keep the discussion from spiraling out of control:

To Keep the Conversation Going

  • Listen and don’t interrupt. If you want a chance to express your opinion, then you must be willing to listen first.
  • Focus on the content of what the person is saying, not the emotions.
  • Pause before responding so that you can address the specific points made by the other person.
  • Show empathy by rephrasing the person’s statement so s/he knows you were listening and understanding.
  • Be calm but firm about which parts of the statement you can and/or cannot agree with.
  • Don’t intimidate with threats.
  • Focus on what you can do to resolve the problem, not what you can’t do.

Despite your best efforts, some people just won’t budge.

So When Do You Fight?

  • If you’re in an emergency situation and you have all the facts and your opponent doesn’t, then you must take action yourself.
  • When you have the support of your manager or client. You’ve convinced them. Now you need to persuade the other person to your point of view.
  • If the negotiation bogs down and there is someone else who can get the job done the way you think it should, then get that person to handle it.

Negotiation is just another form of communication. So listen carefully, be specific in your comments and leave room for compromise.

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