7 Elements of Negotiation, Part 6: Communication

7 Elements of Negotiation

Part 6: Communication

I if had a personal mantra, it would be Communication, Understanding, Peace. For people to understand each other (no, i do not necessarily mean agree), there has to be a clear line of communication, that goes in each direction equally.

If you want more misunderstandings in life, don't communicate... with anyone.

How else are we to understand each other, with all our beautiful differences, ranging from language to size to skin color, without communicating? It is impossible. Without communication and understanding, it is not possible to get peace. What I mean by peace is not the absence of violence or negative conflict but rather genuine peace- the kind that is built on the very first two words of the mantra- communication and understanding.

Communication in negotiation/mediation is one of your greatest tools. Depending on how you use it, it could be your best or worst tool. Communication ranges from what you say, how you say it, body movements, positioning, what you do not say, when and how you do not move and gestures.

The type of communication style you use greatly determines your negotiation style. Some quick tips for communicating effectively are:

  • Speak on your on behalf, not for others and assume what they feel/think.

  • Use "I" statements, "I feel frustrated when you missed the deadline because I then have to slow production down and stay later." Call me crazy, but I think it will much work better compared to saying something like, "You are lazy and never meet deadlines."

  • Listen actively. Don't just wait for them to finish to get your counter-point in, but rather use empathy while the other is talking to try and fully understand their point of view.

  • Show you are listening. simple nodding might work.

  • Be relaxed. being stiff and rigid in posture can send the wrong message to the other party that you are not being open minded and not really giving them your attention.

  • it is fine to take notes, but do not scribble and write while looking down the entire time the other person is speaking.

  • Summarize and reflect. Remember, being a part of the process most times is equally important as the issues. Everyone wants to be able to speak and know that they are being heard. You can accomplish this by using such phrases as, "what it sounds like you are saying is..." and, "you seem angry because..."

  • Open ended questions. Using them is the best way to get more information, make sure you understand them, clarify the issues, and also as a way to deflect attacks.

Many books have been written on communication techniques and tips in negotiation and mediation. I highly suggest if you want to improve you communication style, you engage in further reading on this important topic.

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