A business can’t be successful if it is full of conflict. Underlying animosity means that people don’t trust each other or work productively. You can really give your business a leg up when you resolve any conflicts that arise quickly. The process of resolving conflicts is the same no matter what the conflict is. First you need to set the scene for the negotiations to happen. In order for people to open up to new ideas, they need to feel safe and respected. The problem (not individuals) should be the focus of the discussions. You need to show that you are listening carefully to each person’s interests. You should take everything people say with thoughtful consideration and not just shut down ideas. You can understand people better and show that you are listening when you rephrase what people are saying.
The next step is to gather information. Underneath every person’s position, you will find a deeper need or desire that needs to be understood and met. You won’t be able to do this if you aren’t being objective and putting yourself in their shoes. Focus on the problem at hand instead of getting sidetracked by too many problems. Identify the issue and keep it concise. You need to show that you understand how the situation is affecting the parties involved. People will get defensive if they are met with sentences starting with “you” too often. Using “I” instead of “you” will help everyone feel more comfortable. Don’t always assume what someone is feeling, instead try to clarify with them to see how they are really feeling.
Once you have set up the negotiations and listened, you need to make sure that the problem is clearly identified as the same with everyone. You won’t reach a solution if the problem isn’t identified. Showing that everyone is trying to reach the best outcome can really help with negotiations.
A brainstorming session can help everyone to feel like they are part of the solution. Everyone should feel included, so gather as many ideas as you can at the beginning. This means that you aren’t going to get rid of any ideas, just keep adding more. You want to start with as many ideas as you can, so just keep blurting them out instead of stopping to evaluate them. People will stop thinking about new ideas if you stop too long on one. Someone should make the list of ideas and then someone else should edit them. You should get input from everyone about different ideas. The real solution may be the product of a silly idea, so be open.
It is only time to negotiate when everyone has stated their position and understands the other positions. Ideas have been talked about and the problem is outlined, so a solution needs to be met.
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