“… there’s a priority list: One, know the facts. Two, be dogged. Three, keep an open mind. Next, be creative in getting to ‘yes.’ Finally, a very important basic proposition: Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.”
So brief is this item, I actually located it online via Indisputably, an ADR Blog (Arbitration and Dispute Resolution) – one of those interesting spots to meander, should you wish to learn more about legal aspects of resolving conflict.
But what caught my attention in Professor Feinberg’s words originally, as recounted to Spencer Bailey and appearing in the Sunday Times, is their applicability to much more than legal disputes.
Aren’t these priorities essential to success in most human interactions?
Negotiating with Kids
Consider this: Your child is stubbornly refusing to eat dinner, and you’re pressed to feed her, get on with the evening’s activities that await, but you want her to understand the discipline of eating what is put in front of her – not to mention, who’s boss.
Do you coerce? Do you bribe? Do you punish?
Do you try to talk her into the peas, the broccoli, the tuna – whatever it is that’s causing the stalemate – this time? Do you surrender, and cook a different meal for the picky child who won’t eat?
Negotiating with Your Spouse or Partner
Consider this: Your romantic partner is hesitant to join you on the trip of a lifetime. You have the bucks, you have the ten days off, and the in-laws are willing to stay with the kids (his, hers, yours; configuration of your choice).
Still, your partner is reluctant and you’re beginning to feel resentful and miffed.
It’s a win-win to you. She must not want to go away with you, right? Or your relationship simply isn’t the priority to him that it is to you, so you begin to wonder if there’s someone else.
Salary Negotiation Tips
Consider this: You’re in the running for a job, you have everything the position requires, you’ve met your potential teammates during rounds of interviews and the chemistry is just right. But the salary offer you receive is low, and negotiating for something more is a daunting prospect.
Do you try to get more data in order to support further negotiation? Do you risk attempting a counteroffer? Or do you cave, take what you can get, and resent that you did so, even as you start the new job?
Facts and Determination
First and foremost, go in with facts. That’s what Professor Feinberg is telling us. Go in with determination – dogged determination at that – the confidence of knowing you’re in a strong position, and the willingness to persist in achieving your objective.
Might I suggest that compromise is key?
We don’t always get what we want, but if we come close and achieve a partial goal, doesn’t that set us on the path to completion in the future? The answer isn’t always yes, and the challenge of course is how much compromise…
As to facts, we’ll live in analysis paralysis if we insist on each and every one. It’s a judgment call as to time and other resources required to gather data, knowing we always have a better case when we’re well prepared.
Problem Solving: The Importance of an Open Mind and Creativity
We all know there’s more than one way to get what we want. If Method A doesn’t work, there’s Method B or Method C. Why not look for creative ways to make all parties happy – or at least – willing to arrive at an acceptable compromise? In other words, not “my way or the highway,” but a way that gets us where we need to go.
As for the stubborn child, 30 minutes of negotiation is pointless, but what about asking why she won’t eat, and factoring in age and context?
In the example of the reluctant-to-vacation spouse, could a shorter trip ease concerns? What is the motivation for her refusal?
When it comes to negotiating pay, a compensation package is comprised of more than an hourly rate or salary. A performance-based bonus could be negotiated, or number of hours, or necessary flexibility in taking time off.
Walk in My Shoes
Essential to each of the above scenarios is the ability to get into the other person’s head. That’s not always possible, but it’s more possible than we realize, and not trying is not smart.
If the child’s pattern of behavior is seen other than at the dinner table, you may be dealing with a willful temperament that you both admire and struggle with. We’re back to context, and potentially years of head-butting in your future.
The partner who seems disinclined to leave town may be concerned about the security of her job situation, or some other situation that can only be addressed through open and honest communication.
Negotiating for higher pay?
Writing in Forbes.com, Maria Gamb explains that women are typically less practiced in salary negotiations, and less confident in asking for what they want. But if you’ve done your homework, understand the challenges of the hiring manager, and can support your case with what you bring to the table as well as market pay data, you’re more likely to get what you want.
Life Skills, Life Lessons, Broad Implications?
Think about the implications of these few pointers.
- Dogged determination.
- Staying informed.
- Keeping an open mind; seeking creative solutions.
- Putting yourself in the other’s shoes.
Aren’t these qualities and skills achievable? Aren’t they useful in resolving conflicts of all sorts? Including in friendships, and dare I say – even among political adversaries?
What if policymakers put themselves in the opposition’s mindset, and translated their objectives into language the other side of the aisle could better understand – say, how a program would benefit them, in dollars and cents?
Tenacious in Struggle, or Tenacious in Achieving Solutions?
Dogged? Tenacious? Single-minded?
The “facts” were something else entirely. The dispute, non-existent, or readily resolvable.
Isn’t that exactly why we should never assume?
Isn’t this why we need to communicate clearly – with our children, our parents, our co-workers, our significant others? Isn’t this why we need to be invested in the solution – and not the struggle?
And I might add, empathy – that ability to recognize another person’s goals, constraints, and feelings – does not mean you accord their experience more value than your own. But it may assist in taking the sting out of an outcome that is less than what you wanted, and it leads to forging understanding that may bring us closer to our goals – and while we’re at it, to each other.
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