Resolving conflicts in negotiation
Conflicts can arise during a negotiation and means to resolve them must be found. But what is the best strategy to achieve positive results for the negotiating parties? Check out this post and find out!
Identifying the difficulties of negotiation
We can define conflict as the lack of understanding between two (or more) parties, causing tension on at least one side involved in the negotiation process.
There are two ways of looking at conflicts when it comes to negotiation. The first is to think that it is harmful and that the people who produce it are emotionally disturbed. The other way is to see it as an opportunity to work to minimize losses and maximize gains for all.
For those who want to do well in a negotiation that involves different opinions, only the second view on the subject is possible. But before resolving a disagreement, it is necessary to know whether it is an affective or a conflict of perspective, teaches the negotiation teacher, Paulo A. Alves de Almeida (PUC/MG), who has among his students many professionals from the purchasing department.
An Affective Conflict involves interpersonal incompatibility among negotiators, making it difficult to exchange information and causing the energy of understanding to be directed towards solving people’s problems rather than seeking solutions for business.
But in a Conflict of Perspective there is a disagreement of thought among the elements that are participating in the negotiation, which is natural, after all, each individual has his own ideas and perceives reality in a particular way.
William Ury, founder of Harvard University’s School of Negotiation, says that conflict is natural and will always exist, and it is up to the negotiator to find ways to overcome it.
But the expert also says it is a mistake to believe that good negotiators are born ready. For him, to be successful in a negotiation that involves conflict is something you learn, and for that he gives the first tip: before influencing someone, you must influence and dominate yourself!
Solving conflicts in a negotiation
This is an essential point in a negotiation: the participants must be able to persuade and modify each other’s ideas. How can this be done? Follow the tips that follow – they are very useful for those working in the purchasing department.
1. Overcome interpersonal conflict
By considering each other opponents, there is no chance for dialogue and the negotiation will not progress. The negotiator should focus on resolving the deal, preventing personal feelings from being a part of the negotiating table.
The Harvard professor says that a classic mistake in negotiation is to think that being soft on people means being soft on the problem. Or the opposite: to imagine that a firm approach to the problem requires being tough on people.
According to the expert, what successful negotiators do is separate people from the issue discussed so that they can be calm with people while remaining firm about the problem.
In addition, if you notice that other members of the group have this kind of disagreement, you cannot get involved in the situation or take sides. The best way out is to value opinions, creating space for all group members to express themselves.
When all participants have the perception that their opinions have been listened to in a respectful way, even without being adopted, there is a feeling of collective responsibility for the final decisions.
2. Find similar points
No matter how different the opinion of people who are taking part in the negotiations is, there will always be at least one point in common. And you have to identify it before they are camouflaged by differences.
The negotiator must therefore find the similar points of the two parties and start the conversation on this item and gradually introduce the disagreements.
Another important point is to take the initiative in the negotiation because, according to experts in this field, those who have this attitude can have greater control of the situation, increasing the chances of success – those who work in the purchasing department need to know this.
3. Know how to deal with problems
Preparing for uncomfortable situations can help the negotiator deal with them, when (and if) they happen – at such times, it is essential to control anxiety and maintain balance.
One way to overcome a conflict is to apply the active listening technique. Also known as empathetic listening or reflective listening, it consists of listening and responding to the other party in a truly understanding way, capturing not only the words (verbal language), but also their feelings, manifested by gestures, posture and even looks (non-verbal language).
Calling the person by name, using the same tone and volume to the other party and always being very polite are simple attitudes that help to establish greater interaction and closeness.
The active listening technique allows you to:
- Increase trust and mutual respect;
- Release emotions and reduce tension;
- Encourage participants to disclose information;
- Create a safe environment for problem solving.
4. Act as a mediator
In complex negotiations, the way out for conflict resolution can be to act as a mediator. This is one of the concepts taught in the Harvard Negotiation class by Professor William Ury.
What he calls the third side is a negotiator who, even though they have interests in the issue to be resolved, manages to advocate for the interests of all. In order for this to work, however, this negotiator must be trusted from both sides, otherwise they will not be able to establish themselves as a mediator.
A well-conducted negotiation leads to the difficulties being overcome, allowing everyone to be sure in the end that they have been heard and that the decision was the best possible one for all parties.
However, it is worth noting that it is not only the result of the transaction that should be considered, but the way the process was conducted. If in the course of the transaction there was an exchange of concessions between the parties, the necessary balance was established so that everyone felt comfortable and left the process satisfied – and ready for future negotiations based on mutual respect.
If you want to know more advanced negotiation techniques, it is worth knowing other relevant tips that we have prepared to help you get the best results. Click, read and perfect your way of negotiating:
There are many more techniques available in the market so you can be successful in every deal! To help you become a negotiation master, we have compiled the main ones in our ebook: