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Negotiating With Mr. and Ms. Huge Pain

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Sadly, not everyone is like us – wonderful, charming, amusing, attractive.  Despite our best efforts to be a role model of perfection, setting them a good example, others persist in being a major pain.  Here are 12 selective tips on negotiating with the difficult amongst us.
 
1. Have a positive attitude
Sounds like a motherhood statement but deciding to see the negotiation as a learning experience in the real laboratory of life, as a means to enhance our win-win negotiating skills, changes the starting point of the discussion in our favour.
 
2. Meet on mutual ground
Try to meet, rather than engage in a protracted email war or discuss complex issues over the phone.  Face to face is best and preferably on neutral ground for both of you.  Away from the workspace is often best, such as over coffee or lunch, away from the office.
 
3. Clearly define and agree on the issue
Sometimes we are arguing about different things under the same banner.  By defining the issue in commonly understood words, we are a long way toward achieving better clarity about what is at stake.  If the issue is a biggy, then break it down into bits that can be dealt with one by one, in concrete detail.
 
4. Do your homework
Start by taking the other person’s case and building the argument from their perspective.  This often opens up gaps in our information or assumptions we are drawing, based on no particular facts.  Decide what is our BATNA – the best alternative to a negotiated agreement or our walk away position.  Also determine what we can accept, what we can live with and what would be an ideal outcome.
 
5. Take an honest inventory of yourself
Be more self-aware of aspects of your personality  and style which may help or hinder the negotiations.  Nominate your "hot buttons", which if they get pushed, triggers an explosion inside you and decide not to allow yourself to react that way.  Watch your language and tone, as these usually go straight to the default mode in arguing and you probably don’t want to go there.
 
6. Look for shared interests
Conflict has a way of magnifying perceived differences and minimizing similarities, so look for common goals and desired outcomes.  There may be a common objective but the disagreement is often around the best path toward achieving it. Focusing on the common goal and the desired future, keeps the conversation moving forward.
 
7. Deal with facts, not emotions
In sport we say play the ball not the opponent.  So we should focus on the issue not the messenger.  Maintaining a goal oriented rational approach may be difficult, especially when the ego gets in play, but try and de-personalize the conflict and separate the issues from the personalities involved.  Instead of being defensive, ask clarifying questions that get them talking and you listening.
 
8. Be honest
Be honest and transparent about what is important to you and why.  Clearly state your goals, issues and objectives so the other side can grasp where you are coming from.  Don’t assume it is obvious, because it probably isn’t.  If only common sense was more common!
 
9. Present alternatives and provide evidence
Create options and alternatives demonstrating your willingness to compromise.  Frame options taking into consideration their interests and back up your plans with evidence.
 
10. Be an expert communicator
Be clear, be clear, be clear.  Ask questions, paraphrase for understanding and always check for their understanding of what you are saying.  Miscommunication is often the major culprit in conflict.
 
11. End on a good note
Shake on it, agree the actions steps and who is accountable for what, by when and how.
 
12. Enjoy the process
Reflect and learn from every negotiation.  Have your own criteria to evaluate the process and solution then write it down as a record for future reference.  See your own growth being aided by understanding and learning from different points of view.
 
 
Tricky personalities and difficult people will never just conveniently go away.  Instead, we need to be better prepared in dealing with them.  We can keep repeating the same procedures and wonder why we never get a better result or we change our approach.  Einstein’s definition of being crazy by the way, was to keep doing the same things but expect a different result.  Don’t go crazy - these practical tips will help us on the journey to a less stressful and more rewarding future.
 
 
Action Steps
 
1. Have a positive attitude
2. Meet on mutual ground
3. Clearly define and agree on the issue
4. Do your homework
5. Take an honest inventory of yourself
6. Look for shared interests
7. Deal with facts, not emotions
8. Be honest
9. Present alternatives and provide evidence
10. Be an expert communicator
11. End on a good note
12. Enjoy the process
 
 
 
 
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