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Negotiating in the Workplace – Part II


Here’s the rest of Jeffrey Krivis’ Top Ten Workplace Negotiation tips. (Take a look at 1 – 5 from 7/14/16).

6. “Learn to ‘read minds.’” – According to Krivis, “mind reading is not magic;” instead it is observation and intuition combined to help you get a sense about the people engaged in your conflict and how each might consider the situation. This includes non-verbal communication and “emotional tone” in language use and projection. Krivis suggests getting people to talk about themselves (most everyone will do so if provided the opportunity) and this gives you the chance to better understand the situation. And, with better understanding comes opportunity to better manage the negotiation.

I’ll echo Krivis’ tip as research indicates there is significantly more non-verbal and some call it “other than conscious” communication when we speak with another person than the words alone. Thus, it does help you negotiate to fully engage with the person and I often think of this aspect as seeking to build rapport. My experience suggests that people are more willing to find solutions to problems with people in almost any type of relationship. So, think – how do I build a negotiation relationship?

7. “Think creatively about ways people can cooperate rather than clash.” – Krivis and other conflict resolution practitioners (notably Bernie Mayer in his recent book “The Conflict Paradox”) observe that there is a “tension” in just about every negotiation or conflict between competition and cooperation. Krivis suggests to “be on the lookout for signals that support a cooperative environment” while Mayer argues that you need and want both approaches in your negotiation to help fuel a resolution. From both the idea is to seek options for mutual gain. Can you expand the “pie” of the negotiation so all can get some or all of what is wanted?  Both also encourage relationship building as a means to find mutual benefit options.

8. “‘Edit the script’ to help people see their situation in a different light.” – Krivis explains that people in conflict can “get stuck in their positions” as they retell the story over and over from a “narrow” point of view usually in a “negative and hopeless tone.” He suggests that you can “edit” the story by telling it from a broader and more constructive vantage point. For some in the conflict resolution field this is called “reframing” where you offer back the story heard and shift the frame. In this case, Krivis suggests you shift it to a “positive, forward-looking construction.”

9. “Avoid the ‘winner’s curse’ by carefully pacing negotiation.” – Krivis explains that “it is possible to reach a solution too quickly” noting that people in negotiations expect it to take some time. If it doesn’t and moves too quickly, then all may feel like they did not get the full measure of the deal. As a buyer, we sometimes call this “buyers remorse” meaning “I paid too much!” Thus, Krivis encourages you to pace the negotiation even if you see the deal early. This allows all involved to feel like the deal made was indeed a “good one” for all concerned.

10. “Finally, realize that every conflict can’t be solved.” – Sometimes an issue or dispute just will not get resolved at the time of your involvement. Krivis who serves as a professional mediator notes that sometimes you just have move on and that includes those in the dispute.

I’ll note that this is particularly challenging in the workplace because there are times when you just can’t move on.  Thus, while I agree with Krivis, I also suggest that rather than move on, people determine how to move around the situation. Thus, it might mean adjusting expectations or finding new resources or support. It doesn’t necessarily mean leaving it behind, but rather, putting it aside until it might become more ripe for resolution.